Happy Veterans Day, Grandpa

Stearman biplanesAs pilots in America, we enjoy a freedom to fly that is unique in the world. I am very grateful to be so for­tu­nate and I know every pilot feels the same way when he or she takes flight in our beau­tiful country. But free­doms like these and others are not free; our country’s brave and hon­or­able vet­erans have fought and sac­ri­ficed so that we and others in the world may live in freedom. This Veterans Day I would like to pass on a spe­cial thank you to the vet­erans in my family, including my grand­fa­ther who was a B-17 tail­gunner based in Britain during World War II.

Army Air Corps Stearman taxiingA small pri­vate air­port in Carefree, Arizona invited the public for a static dis­play of planes and cars to cel­e­brate their local his­tory and Veterans Day. My family and I thought it would be a fun outing for the weekend but knew little about what we would see. As for­tune would have it, just as we arrived the dis­tinc­tive sound of old radial engines caught our atten­tion. Above, three Stearman biplanes were begin­ning a series of fly-bys! This was spe­cial not only because they are gor­geous, rare air­planes but because my grand­fa­ther learned to fly in the Army Air Corps in a Stearman and later bought one sur­plus after he returned home from the war. They flew low in for­ma­tion down the runway a few times, trailing smoke, then turned off one by one to land and taxi to park for viewing.

Thunderbird Field painted on the StearmanWhen they had arrived and shut down the engines, the crowd gath­ered in close to admire the planes. Two were painted in the blue and yellow Army colors, while the third was the yellow Navy’s ver­sion. As we approached, I read the words on the side of the plane nearest me: “Thunderbird Field, Scottsdale Arizona.” This is the very air­port where my grand­fa­ther trained in a Stearman! If only he had been there to see the planes with us, this Veteran’s Day would have even more of a fit­ting tribute to his ser­vice. Thank you, Grandpa Jack, and thank you to all vet­erans for what you’ve done for all of us. We owe you so much.

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One Response to Happy Veterans Day, Grandpa

  1. Reya says:

    I will miss you, Grandpa Jack. Your memory is with me always!

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