War Birds--One-of-a-kind Flying History Lessons

This last weekend the Commemorative Air Force (yes, they renamed themselves) brought some really unique aircraft to the local Manassas airport.  These planes have been lovingly restored to flying condition and travel around the country to remind people of an important period in our history.  Many people today think that WWII was a certain win for the allies, but in fact it was a very close conflict.  If a few gambles by either side had gone differently, the world would be a much different place.  Despite my Navy background, I have to admit that the finest aircraft this nation ever produced with the P-51 Mustang.  Its speed, range, firepower and maneuverability helped drive the Luftwaffe from the skies and made sure a lot of bomber crews made it back home.  One of the ways that the CAF helps fund their efforts is to offer rides in the planes.  Their two-seater Mustang was very tempting, but $1,900 for the 30 minute ride was just a little too much for me.  Some lucky guy, did get to go up. Not all the planes they brought were glamorous fighters, this C-45 short haul cargo plane was a work horse moving people around. The "Bucket of Bolts" held up just fine.

The CAF has the only flying version of the Douglas SB2C Helldiver left in the world.  Landing one of these on a carrier was, and in fact still is, the epitome of real flying.   Knowing that the wings are meant to fold up for more efficient storage always made me wonder about how tough they really were.   Good news is that they proved plenty tough in combat.  Last, but certainly not least, the star of the show was the last flying B-29 Superfortress. I had to take six shots and put them together to get this panorama. This plane carried the war to Japan and two like it delivered the A-bombs which ended the war.  It was a fully pressurized plane which made the high-altitude trips possible.  Feeling the roar of the 4 engines and watching it take off was still impressive.   We are losing the veterans who flew these birds on a daily basis.  If you know a Vet, especially a WWII vet, don’t wait until November, thank them today