Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

“Doc” is ready and waiting…and waiting

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

A dataplate for Doc, the friendly Wichita B-29 bomber, was affixed to the aircraft this week symbolizing the volunteer team’s declaration that restoration is complete. One of the women chosen to help rivet the dataplate to the aircraft was 92-year-old Connie Pazacioz whose job during the war was to rivet together aircraft like Doc–she’s one of the original Rosie the Riveters. What’s needed next is FAA airworthiness approval, and so far that has taken months. You could write it off as the FAA just being careful until you look at a special requirement just for Doc, not the nation’s other B-29 Fifi. The volunteers have been told they must use a certified flight engineer, while Fifi can use any trained and “approved” flight engineer. There is only one certified flight engineer in the country, and he will be busy with Fifi flights in June and July. Doc must fly 20 hours before beginning its mission to honor those who sacrificed, including women like Connie. Having a second set of eyes from the FAA helps assure Doc is safe, but a requirement just for Doc? Meanwhile there will be lots of activity at McConnell Air Force Base Friday as Doc runs its engines for dynamic balancing of the propellers–the final step to fly. Someday.

WWII B-17 pilot does a Reddit “Ask Me Anything”

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Carl Estersohn, second from right, top (photo from Imgur)

Carl Estersohn, second from right, top (photo from Imgur)

World War II veteran and Boeing B-17 pilot Carl Estersohn appeared on Reddit on March 22 to participate in one of that board’s “Ask Me Anything” sessions. The 90-year-old, who says he still flies “when I get the chance,” fielded hundreds of questions and comments with the help of a Redditor named Victoria.

Here are some of the top questions and answers.

Which has been your favorite airplanes to fly?

“It’s called a Bonanza. It’s made by the Beechcraft company. And I owned four of them in my lifetime, 3 of ’em in California and one of ’em here in the New York area. And it’s a single-engine propeller-driven airplane that I like very much. It goes very fast for its size and for its power, and I enjoy flying almost anything, but particularly the Beechcraft Bonanza. That’s my favorite airplane.”

What movies are most accurate about your experiences?

“Well, there was a movie called THE MEMPHIS BELLE, which was made, I dunno, 20-25 years ago, which was very accurate in its interpretation of what the average mission to Germany was all about. It showed the takeoffs, the landings, the bombs dropping, people getting hurt, and it was an all-purpose film that was very good.

“It’s available through Netflix, I think.

“It’s a very good film for those that want to know what happened during WWII over Germany.”

Carl Estersohn during his Reddit AMA. (Image from Imgur)

Carl Estersohn during his Reddit AMA. (Image from Imgur)

What came first, your interest in flying or your entering the service?

“I was always interested in airplanes. And when I had to go into service—because war broke out, I had to do something, I was 19 years old and I decided to go into the air corps because I liked airplanes and I liked the idea of becoming a pilot, so I made my choice.

“I would’ve done what they told me to do in the war. When you’re a soldier, you do what you’re told. If you’re trained to do something, you’re left where you are. At least, that’s the way it was in that war.”

Estersohn concluded with this: “I hope that the conversation that I’ve participated in does something to give anyone the choice of making a choice, and to put things in perspective. There are priorities. And you have things that are important, and things that are not important. And you just have to get your head squared away about what things that ARE important, and put the things that aren’t important in their proper place.”

The entire Reddit AMA can be found here.

CAP to get recognition for WW II patrols

Monday, February 25th, 2013

First it was the Tuskegee Airmen who, after waiting 51 years after World War II, got their just recognition with a Congressional Gold Medal. Then it was the Women Airforce Service Pilots who got the medal four years later. Now, there is an effort to honor the founders of the Civil Air Patrol with the medal, and thus all who flew with the CAP during the war. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has launched a bill to honor 60,000 civilians–men and women 18-81 years old–who were CAP members. “Our founding members helped save lives and preserve our nation’s freedom,” said Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr, CAP’s national commander. The CAP conducted anti-submarine coastal patrols up to 100 miles offshore in March 1942 after 52 oil tankers had been sunk. They carried 50-, 100- and 325-pound bombs or depth charges, attacking 57 enemy submarines and reporting 173 to the military.

Restored Mosquito bomber to fly at ‘some’ airshows, but not Oshkosh

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The Fighter Factory in Virginia will soon add a flying restored Mosquito bomber to its collection. It was built with recovered parts and new tooling by Avspecs, Limited, at Ardmore Airfield on the outskirts of Auckland, New Zealand. The company is owned by Warren Denholm and his wife, Shona and was started in 1997. As you’ll see, the company has done a photoshoot in New Zealand and is selling a calendar with photos.

There are videos of the tedious and difficult restoration here, and here. You’ll find video of its first flight and landing here. If that’s not enough videos, here is one more of the first run-up of those powerful Merlins. You’ll see it at the Fighter Factory’s airshow, Warbirds Over the Beach, on May 17. It will also appear in Canada at the Hamilton Air Show near Toronto in June. 

It will not appear at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Fighter Factory owner Jerry Yagen said he asked EAA for an appearance fee to offset expenses, such as he has received at New Zealand airshows where the aircraft is now performing, but was rebuffed by EAA Acting President Jack Pelton. EAA officials said it is impossible to determine who would get such a fee and who would be denied it.  An EAA spokesman asked, “Where do you draw the line?” See comments below.

Want to help launch a graphic novel about a WWII-era crop duster in peril?

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Duster has a little bit of everything: a Stearman Kaydet, a tenacious lady crop duster, World War II baddies, and Texas. But before you can order a copy, it needs some financial help.

The 215-page book takes place in the closing days of World War II. A widowed housewife-turned-crop-duster struggles to rescue her daughter from a band of war criminals who crash near her small Texas farm.

Duster’s writers and artists have put the project on Kickstarter, which is an online funding platform for creative projects. In other words, they’re looking for people who would like to back the book–become “early adopters”–and help fund the creation of the art that they want to see. The campaign launched June 18 and needs to raise $26,000. As of today, 277 backers had kicked in a total of $18,433. The campaign closes on July 24. You can download a free 40-page preview of the book, including the first part of the air battle between Joanna Kent in her Stearman Kaydet and a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju-290. If you choose to back the project, the creators are offering a number of incentives (not unlike the public television pledge drives) based on the amount you contribute.

Duster’s writers are Micah Wright, creator of the Wildstorm Comics series Stormwatch: Team Achilles; and Jay Lender, writer and director of animated television shows SpongeBob SquarePants and Phineas and Ferb. The artists are Jok Coglitore (rough layouts) and Cristian Mallea (pencils and inks).

Since you don’t come across a lady crop duster very often in fiction, I asked Wright whether he’s a pilot. He’s not, but the character of Joanna Kent is loosely based on his grandmother, who was a cotton farmer’s wife in West Texas during World War II. “The pilot aspect of Jo was inspired by real-life aviation pioneers like Jackie Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love, the two commanders of the Women Airforce Service Pilots,” he said. “Although this isn’t a story about the WASP, Jo was definitely informed by the struggles those real female pilots went through in a very rigidly gender-defined world.”—By Jill W. Tallman