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How did you become interested in warbirds?

Posted By:
Zack Baughman
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#1 Posted: 6/18/2009 17:09:49

Just to spur some discussion, how'd did everyone become interested in warbirds?  For myself, as far back as I can remember I have been interested in airplanes.  I have a distinct memory of sitting in the sandbox at my parents' first house in the tiny burg of Pulaski, Iowa, and watching an airplane fly low over the town.  I must have been around 4 or 5 years old at the time.  A few years later I can remember playing in my grandparents' yard across the street and watching one of the Goodyear blimps fly low over town.  They must have been following Highway 2 across southern Iowa, or lost! 

The father of one of my friends who lived in Pulaski was very involved in R/C airplanes and helicopters.  I must have been about 10 or 11 when he took us along to the airport in Bloomfield, Iowa to fly his r/c planes in an open field nearby.  The two of us boys were free to roam around the airport (which has never had much traffic), and sitting in one of the open t-hangars was a beatup P-40 replica fuselage in very poor condition sitting on a couple of saw horses.  In retrospect, it was probably a W.A.R. replica, but I cannot be sure.  That year or the year before my dad had taken me with him to see "Empire of the Sun" when it first came out, and having seen Christian Bale sit in the old Zero, I immediately climbed into the P-40 replica and started making engine sounds and dogfighting an imaginary Zero in my mind's eye.  That was my first experience with anything warbird related. 

Not too many years later while my mom was working on her master's degree at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO, which at the time was called Northeast Missouri State University if I'm not mistaken.  She once took me to the school in the summertime and turned me loose in the university library while she did some thesis research, and I found a section of books about WWII aviation.  Mom checked two of them out for me - Robert S. Johnson and Martin Caidin's Thunderbolt!: The P-47 and Douglas Bader's Fight for the Sky.  From that point forward I was absolutely hooked on warbirds, especially those of the WWII era. 

Since then, I'm lucky to have become the program coordinator of EAA's Timeless Voices of Aviation oral history program, and I am happy to say I actually get paid to interview a number of the men and women who designed, built, and flew the amazing machines we call warbirds.  So that's how my interest has developed, how 'bout yours? 

 

 



EAA Timeless Voices Program Coordinator & Museum Collections Assistant "Let No Story Go Untold!"
Dan Kell
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#2 Posted: 6/19/2009 11:57:21

As a wee lad, I recall being mesmerized by an episode of "12 O'clock High" on my folks' old black & white TV set. 

Mom walked in, and after a few moments announced, "Those are B-17's, aren't they?  Did I ever tell you about my cousin Billy who was a co-pilot on B-17's?  He never returned from a mission to Friedrichshafen..."

This was my introduction to the addiction.  I blame Mother.



Gary Brossett
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
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#3 Posted: 6/19/2009 19:51:22 Modified: 6/19/2009 19:56:41

While I was in the Air Force I had a tour of duty at RAF Mildenhall UK.  The Imperial War Museum Duxford was just a short drive down the motorway from our place, so we had many opportunities to see beautiful warbirds in the museum and at the many airshows,  Check out http://duxford.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.24060 

I began to see the beauty of warbirds!

I have a Corgi model of Sally B on my desk ( http://www.sallyb.org.uk/ ) to remind me of Duxford

 

 



Chattahoochee Valley EAA Chapter 677 http://677.eaachapter.org/
Zack Baughman
543
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483
#4 Posted: 6/20/2009 20:08:39
Gary Brossett wrote:

 

While I was in the Air Force I had a tour of duty at RAF Mildenhall UK.  The Imperial War Museum Duxford was just a short drive down the motorway from our place, so we had many opportunities to see beautiful warbirds in the museum and at the many airshows,  Check out http://duxford.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.24060 

I began to see the beauty of warbirds!

I have a Corgi model of Sally B on my desk ( http://www.sallyb.org.uk/ ) to remind me of Duxford

 

 

Almost had the chance to visit Duxford for the first time this past December, but the trip to the UK fell through at the last moment.  Some day though....

Zack

 

 

 

 



EAA Timeless Voices Program Coordinator & Museum Collections Assistant "Let No Story Go Untold!"
Gary Brossett
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#5 Posted: 6/21/2009 05:47:44

Duxford is a must see for any aviation enthusiast traveling to the UK.  It's more than a museum!



Chattahoochee Valley EAA Chapter 677 http://677.eaachapter.org/
Hal Bryan
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#6 Posted: 6/22/2009 10:16:30
Gary Brossett wrote:

 

Duxford is a must see for any aviation enthusiast traveling to the UK.  It's more than a museum!

 

Agreed - it is spectacular! Any place that can force me to actually lose track of the number of Spitfires and Rapides is a bit of heaven as far as I'm concerned ...



Online Community Manager - EAA
Gary Brossett
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#7 Posted: 6/22/2009 16:17:51


SallyB 

Meet Sally B, Isn't she awesome!



Chattahoochee Valley EAA Chapter 677 http://677.eaachapter.org/
Mike Kern
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#8 Posted: 6/22/2009 23:01:16

My Dad was a B-17 Navigator in WWII so I grew up hearing about them--and being taken to the airport many Sunday afternoons so we could see what was coming in.  He also took me to various air shows where I would be introduced to other warbirds and classic planes.

Later I was able to pass the bug along to his granddaughters.  We traveled up to EAA Museum when we heard they had a B-17 you could get in.  The girls were about six and nine and we climbed inside the plane that grandpa could've flown in.  We got pictures of each of them at the navigator's desk and sent copies to grandpa--about 45 years after he would've last sat at a desk like that.



Mike Kern 778436
Roy McMillion
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#9 Posted: 6/23/2009 11:57:56

 

This is really a hard question for me as I really don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in aviation, and I’ve always considered warbirds a natural extension of the interest.  I grew up on an island in Alaska, and the first few years of my life were spent in Beavers, Gooses (gease?) and the occasional Cessna on floats going back and forth from logging camps and town.

 

My preferences lean toward older aircraft, but I’ve always said I’ll fly anything that gets me in the air.

 



Hal Bryan
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#10 Posted: 6/23/2009 13:24:16

My answer is somewhat similar to Roy's in the sense that I've loved aviation all my life, and I've loved warbirds ever since I first discovered that Spitfires and Hurricanes were called "warbirds." The first airplane I ever flew was a warbird, at least technically - a 1944 Cessna UC-78B, an airplane that should be ready for its second trip to Oshkosh next summer. (Note to Roy: lots of progress lately, so I think I actually mean that this time.)

My best-loved flying of the last couple of years has been my time in Canadian Tiger Moths (DH-82Cs), also warbirds, though even less war-ish than the UC-78. Regardless of their role - trainer, utility / cargo, fighter, bomber - there's something profoundly appealing to me about being able to fly these airplanes in a peacetime setting. They fly to honor those who came before, those who "flew them when", by bringing history to life.

But, to me, there's another element, the idea that the veterans who fought in these machines actually created a world in which we're free enough to simply enjoy these magnificent machines for their own sake. When I fly a Moth, for instance, I'm savoring the gifts I've been given and celebrating the fact that, thanks to those who flew that very same airplane 65 years before I did, I'm not heading off to war. I'm just an extraordinarily lucky guy who gets to sample some of the best bits of that part of history without the downside of potentially getting shot down somewhere in Europe a few weeks later.

Of course, plenty of young men and women these days are going to war, and I'm grateful to all who serve. I hope their grandchildren have it as soft and easy as I have, and that we see F/A-18s parked on the warbirds ramp at Oshkosh 2075.



Online Community Manager - EAA
Bill Fischer
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#11 Posted: 7/2/2009 15:09:05

As a kid, we had a PBY-5A based at our local airport.  It was working as a mining survey platform, searching for copper and zinc deposits in northern Wisconsin.  It still had the side blisters and "black cat" paint job.  For a few summers, probably around 1968 - 1970, it would fly quite often and that drone of the engines always got my attention.  I made many bike rides out to the airport to watch the PBY operations.

From there, I started building model airplanes, reading books about WW-II aviation, and going to air shows.  I also had relatives that served - a B-17 ball turret gunner and a RF-4 RIO.  Listening to their stories certainly fueled the fire.

After college, I started with flying lessons & earned my private pilot certificate.  I've been attending EAA AirVenture since the mid-1980's, always spending lots of time in the Warbirds Area.  In 2002, I was hired as Executive Director of EAA Warbirds of America - enjoying warbirds every day!



Bill Fischer
Joe Norris
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#12 Posted: 7/8/2009 09:24:55

I grew up around airplanes and airplane people, so I think listening to stories told by WWII veterans is probably what got my interest in warbirds going.  One close family friend flew the "hump", our family doctor was a P-47 pilot, our insurance agent was a B-17 pilot, and a close neighbor was a B-25 pilot.  There was no shortage of stories!!

Cheers!

Joe



Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
Michael Prentiss
Warbirds of America Member
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#13 Posted: 7/15/2009 12:12:06

For as long as I can remember I've had a keen interest in warbirds.  I know my first experience was seeing the CAF's B-29 Fifi at the 1989 Hoosier Hoopla show in Valparaiso, IN.  Though I don't remember anything else of that show, the B-29 stands out in my mind.

Today, I help coordinate the Collings Foundation's "Wings of Freedom Tour" stop in Valparaiso, IN.  Which, this year occurs on July 27-29. 



Al Sauer
Warbirds of America MemberAirVenture Volunteer
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#14 Posted: 7/15/2009 17:32:41

This is hard to answer. I also can't recall a time I wasn't into planes. My dad started volunteering in Custom Aircraft Parking when I was pretty young and I think I started when I was 10. We met some people in Warbirds not long after that and began doing Security at night in the Warbird area and that's where you can still find us along with my mother. I always liked the Warbirds but didn't get as involved until the volunteering began.



Zack Baughman
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#15 Posted: 7/15/2009 17:43:09

Not to embarrass Al, but he is one of the finest amateur warbirds photographers I have ever seen.  Hopefully we can get him to post some of his photography here on OSH365.  Welcome aboard Al!

Zack



EAA Timeless Voices Program Coordinator & Museum Collections Assistant "Let No Story Go Untold!"
David Leiting
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#16 Posted: 8/3/2009 10:32:29

Jeez well since I have been to oshkosh 16 straight years and the T-6's and T-28's used to come to my home town airport helped a lot. But I wouldn't have gone to Oshkosh if it werent for my dad even though he isnt a pilot himself.  But every year I see all those aircraft sitting on the north end of the field at Oskosh it gives me chills.  Every year those planes touch me more and run deeper into my soul.  I fill with tears when I see them on the take off roll for the Warbird shows and each year it is harder for me to walk out the the warbird area on sunday and i cant help but cry.



Dolph Ciango
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#17 Posted: 8/3/2009 12:51:00

As a kid growing up in Ironwood, MI, in the early '50's, a flight of four or five B-36's  flew over our schoolyard. The sound of just one of those a/c is awesome,  but in numbers they sent a chill down your spine. I was hooked!  Eventually ended uo in the Navy working on and flying in evrything from AD5W's to F4 Phantoms. It's been a great ride!



Jacob Owen
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#18 Posted: 8/10/2009 14:06:27

well i first got hooked on warbirds when i was just a little kid. See my dad loves local history especially WWII history because evansville is a major part in WWII. Well he started talking to me about P-47s and Republic Aiviation and stuff like that cause we had a plant were i live and was again a major part in WWII. So i was interested form that moment on in warbirds.



-Jacob Owen
Brady Lane
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#19 Posted: 8/11/2009 09:11:22

My grandfather piloted a B-29 in WWII and flew 35 missions in the Pacific.  I grew up listening to his stories and admiring his medals humbly displayed in a small shadow box in a back hallway of his house.  One of those medals was the distinguished flying cross he and his crew earned when they helped escort another damaged bomber back to Tinian.  

I've only seen a B-29 once in my life and I was too young to remember much.  I'd love to see one again.

Just for fun, here are a few recent photos...

 B-17 on Final Approach by you.

 

 F-86 by you.

 

 Corsair by you.

 

 P-51 Mustang by you.

 

 



EAA 808095 Multimedia Journalist
Matthew Gjedde
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#20 Posted: 8/22/2009 16:25:03

Perhaps my first real memory of warbirds was when the Tennessee Museum of Aviation opened at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Contrary to the mostly tacky array of "attractions" in and around the Smoky Mountains, this museum offers a great assortment of immaculately restored warbird aircraft, including several which are flyable including two P-47D's and, on at least an occasional basis, a TBM Avenger. There are three MiG's (two -17's and a -21), and a nicely restored F-86 which doesn't fly. There are also numerous exhibits, which the last time I visited included Jimmy Doolittle's Congressional Medal of Honor. I developed an interest in warbirds around then, which was enhanced by my first visit to Oshkosh about a year later, in 2002.

www.tnairmuseum.com



Green Dot, Runway 27, July 25, 2009 Follow Me at twitter.com/mdgjedde
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