Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Those Magnificent Men and their flying Machines

May 28th, 2006 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Memorial Day weekend is here, just another day off to go shopping, grill steaks in the backyard, and chase the kids around the pool. How fast folks forget the meaning of these holidays and why we have them. It’s actually the first time in many years that I will be off from work and able to participate in a biplane tribute to the fallen American and Canadian Soldiers who died in training while stationed at Hicks Army Airfield in North Fort Worth, Texas. As you can imagine, flying the old Curtis Jenny, a classic biplane trainer, was a very dangerous prospect for these eighteen-year-old kids in 1916. Back then and even in WWII, more young men died in training accidents than were killed in combat. You faced a terribly high percentage of dying then, and yet these guys still trained for war in these flimsy motor powered “Kites.” As my dear pilot-friend Reb always says of the era, “That was back when flying was dangerous and Sex was safe, what a world we live in now.”

A group of local pilots here in my area will take to the skies in their antique biplanes to fly over the Veterans Cemetery in downtown Fort Worth to pay homage to those who have gone west before us. On the ground, the roar of old radial engines will fill the air as we pass overhead, our silk scarves trailing out of our cockpits; my eyes shaded by tinted flying goggles over a tan-colored flight helmet. Flying formation with six other planes is a very tedious task, constantly moving the throttle back and forth to control your airspeed as you maintain a position just off your partner’s right wing. Every bump in the air is felt, forcing you to make numerous corrections every second.

I often imagine that time travel is possible during periods like this; truly, you’re in a 1929 biplane, with the wind creating the same whistle as it passes through the flying wires out on the wing. They resonate along the lines of A plus, leaving a slight ringing in your ears after you have landed.

This is what I will do on Monday, flying my 1929 Fleet biplane and saluting all the veterans below who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I urge all American to reflect on what our military has done for this OUTSTANDING country; for without their sacrifices, we might be speaking German or Russian as a national language, or in this day and age, our enemy would like us to be Muslim or dead.

So, I will have my daughter set an extra place at our dinner table with an overturned wine glass for those who are serving now and those who will never come home.

Semper Fi,