The Flying Fortress

To aviation enthusiasts around the world, some of the WWI and WWII planes are the jewel of the crown when it comes to modern warfare. They were the forefathers in air defence and you can't mistake their distinctive sound, gleaming metal and intriguing nose cone art that made them what they are.

This weekend in Oklahoma, such beauty of the skies is visiting the Wiley Post Airport. The B-17 bomber known as “The Flying Fortress” was produced by Boeing in Seattle, Washington. During the years 1935-1945 some 12,000 were produced, with 4,735 being lost during combat.

This morning whilst shooting with the Territorial Marshals, we were just about to start stage 5 in the Saloon when I heard the sound of her go overhead and I ran out to see where she was. I yelled to Jack and we watched her almost hanging in mid air like a model as she cruised across the skies.

After we had unpacked and got changed, we headed for Wiley Post to see the 'Madras Maiden' in all her glory. She was produced in 1944 but didn't make it to combat with the 381st Bomber Group in England. She was bought and sold at various times and eventually purchased by the Erickson Collection in 2013 in Madras, Oregon.

From the Liberty Foundation website – '….restored to her combat configuration and painted in the colors of the 381st Bomb Group,mane sporting the Madras Maiden nose art, N3701G flies today to honor our veterans, educate current and future generations as to the high price of freedom and to preserve our aviation heritage.'

She is flown today by pilot, Connie Bowlin who not only flies this beauty but has also flown the famed Memphis Belle on many tours.

We have heard that the original Memphis Belle is soon to be installed in the National Museum of The United States Air Force in Ohio that Jack and I had visited back in 2016.

 

As we waited in line with anyone from 4 year olds to a B-29 veteran, we boarded the B-17 for a look and wondered at their cramped conditions in the bomber. An engineering and flight marvel that we were so pleased to see.

 

Sensational! Hoping to see her in the skies again tomorrow during Wild Bunch and capture it on video.

Kat xo

 

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Kansas to Missouri

Our gracious Kansas hosts, Bertie Winchester and Cooncan, put us up for a couple of nights so we could come shoot with them and spend time catching up. We met the new addition to the family, Sully, who was a bundle of energy, keeping us entertained and for at least Friday night, Jack seemed the flavour of the day.

 

We headed out yesterday to Lenexa where the Powder Creek Cowboys hosted their monthly match in perfect weather. Some 64 cowboy's and cowgirl's turned out for it and before long we were shooting 5 stages.

 

This is a good practice place with target placement, varied distance, height, shape and diameter making for an interesting shoot.

 

We enjoyed it, as it had been far too long since we had been there for their annual – Prince of Pistoleers. (Probably 4 years ago)

We almost had a mini version of our Land Run posse with Jack, myself, Bertie Winchester, Cooncan, Fannie Kicker and Titus A. Gnatsass.

We were missing Bertie in this picture of the ladies of our posse which included from Iowa, Hail Hot Mary and Gunslinger Grace.

 

We spent the afternoon chatting, trying to fix the speaker for tunes, drinking beer (well maybe that was just me) and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, all while Jack snoozed.

It was a fabulous visit getting to meet more of their family and we certainly appreciated the hospitality.

This morning we left them and headed for Kansas City, MO. Last time we stopped in at Union Station and every bit of history it had to offer. THIS time we headed back near there to The National WWI Museum and Memorial.

At the end of Memorial Mall (like ANZAC Parade is to the War Memorial in Canberra) is the Liberty Memorial with the museum being a sub terrace to it, the Assyrian Sphynx's, Cinerary Urns, Exhibit and Memory Hall's.

 

As you enter along the black granite causeway to massive bronze doors, it opens to a glass and light filled entrance. The glass walkway to the exhibit halls allows a view to the poppy field below.

 

Each of the 9000 poppies represents 1000 deaths. Nine million souls perished during WWI. If you catch the reflection juuuusst right you can get a view of the Liberty Memorial in the glass with the poppies as well.

Next we went into the 12min video of how the beginning of World War I commenced and then into the beautiful exhibit galleries. A very well thought out display with timelines, personal accounts and more.

 

As we moved through each gallery space there were many artefacts, uniforms, firearms etc.

 

There were life sized trench dioramas with sound and ambient lighting. Propaganda posters, medals, heavy artillery and so much more.

 

Towards the centre of the exhibits are another full on trench and battlefield setup with a short film across a grand screen, interactive tables depicting anything from camouflage to air combat, sound booths for personalised accounts, prose etc.

 

This is a very well thought out museum moving through the timeline culminating in the entrance of the United States into Allied forces during the campaign.

 

We finalised our tour by taking the elevator to the upper level and the courtyard surrounding the Liberty Memorial and the Assyrian Sphynx's.

The Sphynx's as stated in the brochure – 'Memory' faces East toward the battlefields of WWI, shielding its eyes from the horrors of war. 'Future' faces West, shielding its eyes from an unknown future.

 

I regretfully state that we decided we needed to get on the road and did not see the Exhibit Hall or the Memorial Hall 😦 during the car ride home I realised we had missed one of the main things I did want to see. The Exhibit Hall features flags of the allied nations in the order they entered the campaign. The Memorial Hall houses the largest fragment of the 'Pantheon de la Guerre' and includes bronze tablets with the names of 441 Kansas Citians that died in WWI. Disappointed much.

 

However, IF you ever get the chance to go through Kansas City, please do allow for a visit here. It was fantastic, very moving and just a stunning facility.

A great way to end our quick trip to Kansas/Missouri, thanks again to our wonderful hosts (actually saw a couple of cowboy's in the museum) and now we are back in Oklahoma getting set to head south to Leonard, Texas this next weekend.

Hope you have had a wonderful weekend wherever you may have been.

Kat xo

 

Now, Where Were We?

Oh yeah, so last Thursday we were heading here to Albuquerque, breakfast on the way, making a quick stop in Weatherford at the Thomas P. Stafford Air and Space Museum….as you do.

We have driven past it a number of times and it's the usual, 'we should stop and have a look at that place one day'. So this day we finally did!

 

In we trotted. To give some small background General Thomas P. Stafford is a well respected Oklahoman, and indeed throughout the nation, a man who was an author, fighter pilot, astronaut and test pilot. He commanded Apollo missions.

 

Inside the museum there are a number of planes from the Wright brothers days to the Lindbergh non stop Atlantic flight in the Spirit of St Louis, WWI fighters, experimental aircraft and modern day marvels.

 

Then there is a whole section on space exploration including the Russian joint missions during the space race. There are replicas of satellite launchers from around the world and unique information boards to imagine how much 'John Deere' horsepower it would take to fire up just one F-1 engine.

Go on, you're dying to know right? Try 56,000 John Deere 9620R tractors equivalent! The Saturn V rocket used 5 engines so that's enough tractors to reach from Weatherford, OK to San Francisco, CA or 283,800 tractors end to end.

 

Anyway, from the information we read in the museum Stafford was a very influential man both in flight and space, not only flying during service, commanding missions in space but teaching others to do the same and his expertise in these fields earned him the highest honours and Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

 

All in all, this was a neat little museum and is worth a visit, takes about an hour.

 

Now it's been a wild weekend but I'll get to that tomorrow after the Wild Bunch dinner and awards are done.

Kat xo

P.S. Well it's today now as the bugs were finding the light of the iPad in the darkness last night. Wild Bunch Awards and dinner tonight. Will do Wild Bunch blog tonight! 🙂

 

Dayton, Ohio – National Museum of the US Air Force

Wow! Just wow!

Booked in for a 3pm Fighter Pilot 3D movie in the IMAX style theatre. Grabbed a map of the hangars and just in total bewilderment already.

 

What an amazing museum!

First into the Early Years exhibition with everything from first ballooning to the most famous Wright Brothers and their flying machines, paving the way for many aircraft to come in the years since.

 

Three hours later, we have only completed the first gallery and viewed the art exhibit, Holocaust Memorial display and tribute to Bob Hope and his years of entertaining troops.

 

Picked up our souvenir photo, had a coffee and then headed to the souvenir shop while waiting for the movie.

 

We will be back tomorrow because there are technically 9 more galleries to see and we aren't missing out on this!

So yesterday we went back and checked out the massive display of WWII. Finished in Hangar 1 we looked at the Hall of Fame and into Hangar 2 for the Southeast Asia and Korean War galleries.

 

There is a lot of photography and artefacts throughout with just a staggering amount of aircraft and equipment. In fact through all the exhibits this is the same. Many of which have been donated or, as in the case of the vehicles and aircraft, when they have been decommissioned from service.

 

Of course the museum IS the National Museum of The U.S. Air Force but throughout there is mention and records of service men and women from other Allied Nations including Australia, Britain, Canada to name but a very few.

 

Sunday I mentioned we were going to see the 3D movie – Fighter Pilot, Project Red Flag. An amazing view of the top pilots training at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada (just outside of Las Vegas, we saw the base when we were there last year). Yesterday we watched Aircraft Carriers, 3D, ALSO an exercise involving military from around the world. Both films were about 25mins long and if you find anything online about them they are definitely worth the watch.

 

The rain had cleared in the afternoon again so we took advantage to see the Memorial Park as well.

 

This morning we got there early – doors ready to open early – heading to the 3rd hangar with the Cold War Gallery and current Air Force Operations.

 

We passed through the Berlin Airlift Exhibit and the Missile hall and on to the final new fourth hangar that houses research and development, space, global reach and presidential displays.

 

We were told you needed at least a full day if not more and that certainly proved to be true. It has taken us essentially 2 full days. It was most definitely worth it. It's free, but food and drinks, souvenir's, photos, theatre and the simulators are basically your donation to the museum. Prices were more than reasonable and photography is allowed in every part of the museum. (She says, some 500 odd photos later)

Kat xo

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/#_=_