Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An EAA AirVenture Experience That Won't Be Forgotten

"It's not what you know, but it's who you know" was so true for us yesterday, July 30, 2013.  Our son in law called yesterday morning.  He is a former high school principal and is now the Director of Education at EAA in Oshkosh Wisconsin with a focus on getting people interested in aviation.  One of his favorite responsibilities is the Young Eagles program.  

He told me that the B-24 had landed for the AirVenture show. He wanted us to bring my dad over, and he would show us around the grounds and take us to see the plane.  This is the type of plane that my almost 89 year old dad flew in during his 44 missions.  I have written about him being a World War II veteran in other blog posts.

319th Bombardment Squadron

The 319th Bombardment squadron part of the The Jolly Roger's.

Of the 18,000 planes built, this B-24 is one of very few that are still able to fly.

We met my son in law at the EAA grounds.  He brought a golf cart and our wrist bands.  We headed out past all the airplanes parked side by side all over the place.  We learned if the plane number began with a "C" it was from Canada and "N" meant the U.S.  He said that there were several planes from all around the world.  There were over 10,000 planes there.

Campers for as far as you can see.

Camping under the wing.  Notice the red plane is from U.S. and the one behind is from Canada.

I was amazed at all the people camping in tents near their planes.  Acres of campgrounds are full, all the hotels within many miles are full, and personal houses get rented out for the week.  People stay wherever they can find a place.

As we worked our way through the grounds, we saw lines and lines of aircraft.  I don't even begin to know anything about airplanes or how they work, but I find it amazing that so many people are into aviation and different aircraft.  There were vintage aircraft, restored military aircraft, home built airplanes, experimental aircraft and of course many planes from the various manufacturers.  Plus Dusty the Crophopper from the new Disney movie called "Planes".

Dusty looking like he needs a little repair.

Just before we approached the B-24, the afternoon air show began.  As they played the National Anthem, parachutists began falling through the sky.  The last one had an American flag attached to their ankle.

Then we saw the plane.  It's been 68 years since dad was in the B-24.  It seemed smaller than he remembered.  We met one of the men who brought the plane onto the grounds.  He took us into the plane.  What an amazing experience!   I never thought I would ever be able to actually see where dad stood in the plane as a waist gunner during the bombing missions or where he pulled the pins out of the bombs at the point of no return. 

The Colonel who greeted dad and showed him the airplane.

Dad entering the plane.

Walking the narrow catwalk toward the front of the plane.

We went through the plane and then went up to the front to see where the pilot, co-pilot, navigator and the engineer sat.  Dad sat in the navigators seat and they chatted about his experiences.

Sitting up front in the navigator seat.  He didn't get up there during the bombing flights.

Dad is giving the thumbs up.

When we exited the plane and walked around we had some fun with taking some pictures of the exterior.

Where the nose gunner sat.

Standing under the place where dad was positioned as a armorer/waist gunner.

The planes have the names of scantily clad women painted on the side.  This nose art was the Diamond Lil.

All of us were so appreciative of Bret's efforts for providing us with this experience.  It would never have happened if it wasn't for him.

Thank You Bret

1 comment:

  1. Barb , what wonderful memories and photos , looks like everyone had a super time , Your Dad looks like he was enjoying the memories and will continue on with those memories for a few years to follow :)
    Glad to see the photos , thank you for sharing .