When, in the course of time, you find yourself putting together a “Bucket List”, you know you are growing a bit “long in the tooth”. On the 24th of September, 2016, I was able to check the following item off my personal bucket list.
TAKE A FLIGHT IN A WWII FIGHTER PLANE
Thanks to the Collings Foundation of Stow, MA, and their special program called “Wings of Freedom Flight Experience”, I was able to take a flight in a spectacular TP-51C called Baby Jane. Click HERE for more information on this special aircraft.
Prior to “going up” my wife, Donna, and I walked around the Worcester, MA Airport, which is located in the city of my youth. There was a huge crowd taking in all the “eye candy” including a B-17, a B-24, a B-25, two Corsairs and another P-51. Be sure to check out their website as this special group makes over 100 stops all over the US. COLLINGS FOUNDATION FLIGHT EXPERIENCES
So, at the appointed time, and dressed in my very own Ruptured Duck A-2 leather jacket, I climbed on board and was given very specific instructions. Those included “Don’t touch anything” (you do not have to tell me twice) and after strapping myself into the seat parachute my pilot, “Pinky”, gave me specific instructions regarding when and how to use the parachute. Those began with the word “JUMP!” Once again, “you don’t have to tell me twice”.
The pilot then started this “Cadillac of the Skies”, and off we went, on a mind boggling, one-hour flight, over many very familiar sights which I’d never seen from the vantage point of the cockpit of a P-51 fighter plane. We flew up to the New Hampshire Speedway in Loudon, NH, and did a fly over during a NASCAR race…”wicked cool”. I can say, for a fact, when that Navy Corsair and our P-51 “dipped” for the crowd, it took my breath away. The crowd really got a kick out of it, as coincidentally, one of my son’s racing buddies was there, and said the crowd went wild.
Then we returned to Worcester flying over some very scenic areas with Mount Wachusett off to the West and the VOUGHT F4U-5NL CORSAIR flying on our left wing tip. Before landing back at the airport, we did a fly-by for the crowd and more dips for effect. It’s a day I shall never forget!
So if something like this, including flying in a B-17, B-24 or B-25, has always been a fantasy, it’s not all that hard to make dreams come true!
**That’s the great news! The bad news has something to do with Murphy’s Law. I used my wife’s phone to take about 150 pictures of this epic day and shot my brains out. This included pictures of Donna and I with the planes, and the pilot and I standing next to the P-51. I also shot many pictures during the flight and the “fly-over” at the racetrack. As we were returning to Worcester, I got a message on the phone saying something about a warning and low memory and it wouldn’t let me take any more pictures. Much to my chagrin, when we tried to look at the pictures, they were nowhere to be found. After countless tries including a trip to the AT&T store, we’ve been informed that the “card” was corrupted and all the pictures are lost.
We have all had this happen and there is never a good time for this. I was heartbroken, as I was anxious, to share this event with you, pictorially. However, that isn’t going to happen. Thankfully, I can close my eyes and still see many images from this memorable day.
As a consolation, we have included some file photos, taken by the Collings Foundation, on previous flights, within this blog.