Frank Losonsky and Chuck Baisden, crew chief and armorer for the AVG 3rd Squadron Hell's Angels, made it to what was billed as the 75th reunion of the Flying Tigers at the Dekalb Peachtree Airport in Atlanta last month. It was in September 1941 that they and about two hundred other young Americans began training in Burma to join the Chinese Air Force in what was arguably the first U.S. covert operation of the 20th century. The Commemorative Air Force sponsored the reunion, along with a gathering of Curtiss P-40s with their iconic shark-mouth warpaint. Losonsky enjoyed a ride (presumably his first, since the fighter was designed as a single-seat aircraft) in the back seat of a modified P-40, making two barrel rolls over the airport. (Photo by Thom Patterson.)
And here's a wonderful video about the search for the CNAC Flight 53. It's also a nice summary of the Chinese National Airline Corporation and, to a lesser extent, of the Flying Tigers. (The gun camera footage illustrating the latter is actually from the days of the U.S. Army fighter squadrons, not the AVG.) It also gives a good idea of the difficulty of building and maintaining the Burma Road.
My favorite airfield of the Second World War was the magically named Bluie West One on the southwest coast of Greenland. I fell in love with the place a second time when my family and I met there in 2005, which inspired an e-book and web page, Remembering Bluie West One. It has brought me emails and anecdotes from old timers, most recently Harold Patton, who this month recounts his time there as an air policeman in the 1950s.
One of my minor vices is grand opera. Knowing that, a friend who volunteers at her library's annual book sale picked up The Time of Our Singing (631 pages in the British edition) and brought it to us. (How many people who donate books to the library know that they're usually sold for fifty cents or a dollar at a jumble sale?) It is the story of a remarkable family, of a young black woman and a refugee German Jew, who meet at the Marian Anderson recital at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, and of their mixed-race children growing up in postwar America. The eldest, Jonah, is hailed as the country's most promising Negro tenor. Always that qualification! This is a great book. On Amazon in Kindle, paperback, and used hardcovers as cheap as one cent plus shipping.
Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:
Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford
Posted October 2016. Websites © 1997-2016 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.