Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

This Memorial Day weekend, I attended the Wings of Freedom Tour at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View. It was a chance to see three WWII planes up close and to hear stories from some of the men who flew these planes.

The Wings of Freedom Tour is sponsored by the Collings Foundation, a non-profit group that flies these planes around the country for people to experience. It was a gorgeous day at the airfield with sunny blue skies. Moffett Field used to be a Naval air station but is now a joint civil-military airport owned and operated by the NASA Ames Research Center.
You may wonder what inspired me to attend this event. One of my favorite movie genres has always been WWII. It's probably because my dad was in the war that I developed this interest but I've always been intrigued by these movies and the historical events of the time. This was a chance to see and tour the planes that were are part of our living history.

The planes included a P-51 Mustang, single seat fighter. For $2,200, you could go up in this plane for a 30 minute flight. At least two of these flights took off while I was there. The cost is tax deductible and goes towards the care and maintenance to keep these planes flying across America for us to see. This little plane was beautifully maintained, it looked shiny and new.

The second plane was a B-17 bomber also known as a Flying Fortress. There was quite a line to go through this plane and it wasn't moving very fast, so I went over to the other plane, the B-24 Liberator. While you enter at the front of the plane for the B-17, the B-24 is different in that you can only enter through the tail end. With only a few people over there, up I went up into the plane. There was  a very narrow catwalk over the bomb area inside and I could not imagine how those men with their heavy jackets and parachutes could get through there. It was actually a bit claustrophobic inside.

I listened and talked to some of the men (currently in their eighties and nineties) as they told of their experiences flying over Europe and Asia. One was shot down towards the end of the war and spent 90 days as a POW in Germany. There were POW's from other countries in there as well. The day the Americans liberated that camp, he said the Russians went into town to get drunk while the French left en masse, coming back with a goat which they then barbecued.

It's hard to believe, but you could actually go up in a flight for $425 on either of the bombers. I would have loved to have seen those two in flight but by the time we were through, we still had two hours before they would take flight.

On this weekend each year, I watch movies and documentaries about the wars and think of my father, my uncles and all the other people who served in our fight for freedom. It makes me sad that those who served in WWII, called Our Greatest Generation, are now disappearing and along with them, their stories. So the next time I see my dad, I will finally write down his stories and memories.


Nancy's Notes said...

Gracie, it's so wonderful of you to watch movies and documentaries about the wars and think of your family members and people who served our country and fight for freedom. I makes me so sad too that that ones that served in WWII, called Our Greatest Generation are disappearing. Please write down your dad's story, I know it must be great. I shared mine today and I honor him today, like I do everyone that has fought for our freedom.

Thanks again for sharing such a great post.


Draffin Bears said...

Hi Sharon,

I think that it is interesting hearing the stories, of those that have made history.
How neat that you got to go along and see the old planes and hear stories from the Men.
Thank you for sharing a great post.

Have a happy week

Amanda said...

Just found your blog and I'm loving it-- hope you don't mind if I follow along?

Hope said...

Hi Sharon~
WOW! I too am a huge WW2 follower. My son (and daughter all though she is in high school now)is in a wonderful video production class in middle school. His teacher is a huge WW2 buff. In January Lincoln & I traveled with Mr. Rudkin to Poland along with 8 other students to Poland to attend the 65th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz with Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor. It was a never forget can see some of my posts about it on my probably have seen them. We are currently making a movie called Choices about the Nazi is very powerful. I have a role in the movie....I play a German mother....and I actually cry real tears. Some how I will let you see it when it is finished....a seventh grade student wrote the screen play!! Sorry to blabber on.

aBohemianMarket said...

Hi Friend Sharon:
I am back and as always your photography is so cool.
WWII history is always interesting and important for all of us to know.
My daughter recently bought a Nikon D5000 and is in love with it. Her first digital camera.
I am sort of back. Still too many doctor's appointments yet que sera sera : )
Come over when you have time. I hope you have finally gotten rid of your cold/flu and are feeling better.
Love & peace