We drove from home, Springfield, MO, on Thursday to the Harrah’s Casino in Tunica, MS about an hour from the airport. We went early and got the perfect parking spot directly across from the plane. I had a front row seat, and thoroughly loved watching everyone and everything. The members of the local EAA chapter were out polishing the plane; I swear every inch was gone over a dozen times. These guys were all carrying coffee and donuts, and having a good time, sharing stories and milling around.
Check in time was 9:15, flight at 10:15; I think Bruce was first inline. The first part of the tour “briefing” and demo followed by the flight itself. There was 6 paying passengers, plus a 3-member crew on board for a 20-30 minute flight. After they were airborne, they were allowed to walk around, take pictures, and ask questions. Bruce still can’t believe what a small space the nose gunner had to work in.
From my vantage point in the car, it seemed everyone there were over 60...away over. I could only imagine the stories they were sharing of long past days when they were pilots or in the military, etc. One of the passengers was an old man that was using a walker. He sat outside and almost everyone went up to visit with him. Bruce found out that he had flown B29s in some war. Can’t you just imagine what he was thinking when the plane took off? Memories are so precious!
About an hour before the demo started, we heard helicopters overhead. Two military copters landed and out popped young guys in flight suits. They went through the old B17 several times and talked to the older men. They waited and watched the take-off and landing, then flew their copters off. (We didn’t find out if they were National Guard pilots or from what base they were stationed.) It was so touching to observe, the young HEROES of today visiting with the older HEROES of yesterday.