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.”
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.