|By Leo Cachat and Fred Harl|
As the airport came into view so did the mighty warplanes on the ramp, the B-25, SB-2C-5 and B-24 were silhouetted against a beautiful morning sun and cloudless blue sky. As we pulled into the parking lot, we then saw the mighty B-29 Fifi on the east end of the ramp.
We went to the Midwest Aviation entrance where we received a warm greeting by employee and ramp boss for the day, Mr. Sean Rabideau. He then directed us to Mr. Charlie Rodriguez, who along with EAA Chapter 277 and the Williamson Co. Regional Airport Authority, organized this great gathering of Commemorative Air Force warbirds. Mr. Rodriguez also informed us that the aircraft arrival late Friday afternoon, and that this gathering was really a tribute to the veterans who have served this great country. He also mentioned that groups including The Rotor and Wing Association of America and students from Southern Illinois University had worked very hard in pulling this gathering together. A student named Johnny had come by and we were informed that he alone had worked night and day since Wednesday to make this event happen.
The Aero Experience would like to extend a hearty thank you to all those mentioned above, along with Airport Manager Mr. Doug Kimmel, for their professionalism, kindness and for providing uncommon accessibility to the aircraft. An event like this, with a staff like this, deserves to be commended. They epitomize what The Aero Experience strives to portray - a great Midwest aviation experience.
Here are some views of the Commemorative Air Force warbirds from Saturday's visit:
Boeing B-29A Superfortress, "Fifi," on the ramp and a local flight
Consolidated B-24A Liberator (No. 18), "Diamond Lil"
North American B-25J Mitchell, "Show Me"
Curtiss-Wright SB2C-5 Helldiver
Boeing (Stearman) A75N-1 (PT-17)
Douglas DC-3 from the Flagship Detroit Foundation
Other Aircraft were using the airport as well...
(Editor's Note: The Aero Experience thanks contributors Fred Harl and Leo Cachat for this excellent coverage of the CAF Warbirds Salute to Veterans).