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Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. ~ Auguste Rodin
B52 landing
As quite a few of my stories begin, this one is the same. I was a morning radio DJ for a long time and had the number one show in the market. I would talk about all kinds of things and one morning I got a call from a group of what's called "barn-stormers". These guys fly across the country and do air shows. This particular group was flying, among other things one of the few remaining B-52 bombers from World War II.

That's one there, above.
Now, trust me. I am as much of an "anti-war, anti-violence" guy as anyone, but this was a chance to experience something that very few people ever get to do. These barn-stormers were asking for some publicity and offered to take us up in the plane for a ride. We asked and got permission to offer a limited number of seats to our listeners. There are, after all, a very limited number of spaces in the plane. As big as it is, and it was at the time, the biggest in the fleet. But there's just about as many people allowed to fly in the plane as the old bomber crew used to be. So, being such a once in a lifetime chance, I decided to offer this chance to fly in a piece of history to my listeners in a very special way.
I asked, on the air, if anyone was listening who had flown during WW2 on this aircraft or whose dad may have served in a crew of a B-52. Well, was I surprized. I had a number of people call and write who said their dad had been on the B-52 in the service, I even had one fellow who was still alive who was a part of an original crew of the bird.
B52 escort

We sorted out the eager listeners, and one particular woman stood out at the time and still, to this day, I can remember her. Her father had been lost on board the B-52 during the war.
This flight, to her, was more meaningful than to anyone else.

So the day arrived and we all met at a VERY small airport called Burlington airport. One runway. My first thought was "How is this huge plane gonna take off on THIS tiny runway!" As we all gathered and began to board the plane, the excitment started.
I realized that we were about to experience a flight that for some would be their last, and for some would mean the world. Everyone was seated for take off. In addition to the B-52, there were some escort planes.
(I've forgotten what they were, but smaller planes like mustangs or something.
The first thing I noticed was just how noisy this plane was. Secondly, for such a big plane, how cramped it was inside. After we were airborne, we were allowed to unbuckle and roam around the plane a bit. I found my way into the bombadier's location. It was RIGHT in the nose of the plane!

B52 nose

Amazing. As you looked down through the bomb sight, you could see below the plane, but even better was as you look straight ahead, the entire nose of the plane was some kind of clear plastic. You could see right out of the nose!
Now, that would have been cool enough, but our pilot (a real 'hot dog') flew down and over a large lake. As I looked out from the nose, he was getting lower and lower. At one point as I watch from the nose of the plane, he was SO close to the surface of the water, I swear if I had a net, I could have reached down and caught fish!
As I looked ahead, we were flying right towards the end of the lake and a small mountain and trees lay dead ahead. JUST at the last possible moment, the pilot pulled up the plane and just buzzed the trees. I thought, for sure, I was about to meet my end! What a THRILL!
B52 nose

Overall, an incredible day. An unforgetable experience. But, to me, the best moment came as we flew back towards the airport, our flight coming to an end. As I made my way back to the body of the plane, I noticed the woman who had lost her father on one of these very planes during the war. She was sitting quietly and gazing out of the open side door. As I watched from a distance, I noticed a tear run down her cheek. As sad as this was, I was so happy that I could make this happen for this woman. This flight, for her, seemed to be a way of finally saying goodbye to her dad.

Flying in a B-52

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Wrote a children's book


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