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A couple of old stories

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A couple of old stories

Old 16th Dec 2022, 18:05
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A couple of old stories

A couple of old military stories from the Antique Aircraft Association newsletter that are worth having a wider audience(I'm sure they won't mind if I convince a few to join the organization)....

"You know youíre in for a treat when a ninety-year-old guy slides up to your airplane, jettisons his walker, and climbs right in. Although not the most difficult mid-century light airplane to get into, the taildragger converted short-wing Piper is still no small task. Dale didnít want, or need for that matter, any help getting in. It was the same story once we were in the air, with a gentle but sure hand, including perfectly coordinated turns by feel. He handled the old Pacer like he had a thousand hours in it. Like heíd just climbed out of it the day before. It was a great day and a great flight for both of us, and we plan to do it again as soon as time allows. My uncle Dale has been some places and seen some things. Upon graduating high school from McCook, Nebraska, in the early 1950ís, he made a succession of wise decisions. First, he married my dadís oldest sister. Second, he joined the Air Force. As was the case with many of that generation, the military educated him, trained him, and then showed him the world.

As a navigator, Dale would get to experience the last of the leftover WWII bombers and transports. Later, he would spend several years on the B-36, including taking several to the scrapyard. He says they would taxi off the pavement into the dirt as far as it would go before becoming completely stuck. Shut everything down right there and get out, because the guillotine was already moving into place to chop it up. Both fascinating and sad at the same time. He even took part in many of the around-the-world missions in the C-141 Starlifter.

One of my favorite stories is about an overnight C47 trip to Hawaii from California. Apparently, the dedicated navigator on this particular Gooney Bird had fallen gravely ill when they were already several hours out into the abyss, and past the point of no return. As luck would have it, Dale was onboard as a passenger that night. The co-pilot slowly worked his way back through the cabin waking every passenger up to ask if they possibly had any navigator experience. Well, Dale was the man for the job. I guess it took about 30 minutes to get figured out where they were, and to choose a new heading. Dale had no shortage of enthusiastic fans onboard as they safely landed at their intended destination."

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