20 May 2007

Fly-In!

As often happens, a ThirdWaveDave post tweaked a "bloggable" memory-
With the coming of better flying weather that arrives with late Spring, local airports plan fly-ins to attract those that fly and the general public to their facilities to build goodwill and attract attention to themselves. Some of these events can be pretty extravagant affairs, complete with performances by military demonstration teams like the "Blue Angels", "Thunderbirds", or the Army's "Golden Knights".

I'm frequently asked by promoters to bring a helicopter and give rides at these events. They can be a lot of fun and I enjoy taking part in them, but giving helicopter rides is somewhat stressful because of safety factors, and is a lot of work for a little money.

A few years back I got a request I couldn't refuse. I got a call from a friend I had taught to fly helicopters who owned a local FBO. The festivities would last over Saturday and Sunday, and the "Collings Foundation" was flying in with a couple aircraft...
Their B24, "The Dragon and His Tail", and
their B17, "909":






Being part of the show might give me the opportunity to crawl through these historical artifacts. I couldn't resist!

Weather for the weekend was great. A larger than expected crowd showed up.I gave enough rides to make my participation worthwhile.

At the end of each day, the foundation was selling rides in each of the airplanes to those that could afford the price. I was one of those that could only stand by and drool as the airplanes started, taxied out, and took off.

My FBO friend/student dropped by, and we discussed the old Bombers. I expressed regret at not being able to afford the cost of flying in them.
He said, "I might be able to arrange something for ya. Lemme check."

Later-
"They are flying to "************" tomorrow, (a town 250 miles away). If you can be here at 0900 tomorrow morning, you can fly with them!"

I was scheduled to work at my EMS job. I called and got the day off.
The town was not far from my parent's home. I called them and asked if they could meet me. My Old Man, a WWII Veteran and civilian pilot understood completely:
"Absolutely!"

The flight took 75 minutes. Other than the pilot and co-pilot, I was the only person on the airplane and got to go over it in flight from tail-gunner position to cockpit. It's an experience I'll never forget!

Can you guess which Bomber I chose to fly in, and why?

4 comments:

Andrea Shea King said...

If I guessed the B-52 I'd have a 50% chance of getting it right, right?

Either way, you got lucky. I'm envious!

Andrea
Radio Patriot

THIRDWAVEDAVE said...

Haven't a clue as to which plane you choose or why. Just glad you had the opportunity.

Teller said...

I would have to guess the Liberator, as "The Dragon" is the last airworthy B-24 today. Though flying in a B-17 that was exposed to multiple nuclear blasts would be kind of cool, too. A flight in any warbird would be worth a sick day (or two) in my book.
Teller

The Old Man said...

Teller had a good point - wish I'd had the choice.... Coupla years ago I dropped $395 to fly in "Fuddy Duddy", a CAF B-17 being campaigned by the EAA. Coolness factor is off the scale - watching Akron from the bombardier's station.. But a PCS? TOO freakin' cool....