|By Carmelo Turdo|
Upon arrival at the airport, one can quickly gain a sense of appreciation for the rich aviation history of the region. The airport is also referred to as Smartt Field in honor of Ensign Joseph G. Smartt, killed in action on December 7, 1941 while serving with Patrol Squadron 11 at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Dallas, Texas native was commended for his actions in alerting the Kaneohe Naval Base to the air attack. The USS Smartt, Destroyer Escort DE-257, was also named for him. Ensign Smartt took flight training at Naval Reserve Air Station, St. Louis (Robertson), Missouri. A marker, sponsored by the Missouri CAF Wing, is located near the wing's hangars.
Another reminder of the area's rich aviation history can be found nearby - Ozark Airlines Plaza. This memorial is a fitting remembrance of the employees of Ozark Airlines, a staple of St. Louis aviation until it was absorbed into the city's other hub airline, TWA, in 1986. The retiree group, the Silver Swallows, holds reunions and other events at the airport periodically. It is so well presented that we had to bring it to your attention. A special marker is dedicated to Captain Richard D. Roberts, Vice President of Flight Operations at Ozark Airlines at the time of the merger with TWA.
The Missouri Commemorative Air Force Wing is based at Smartt Field in an historic wood hangar dating to the 1940s when the U.S. Navy conducted flight training there. The CAF Wing's missions are to preserve World War II aviation history and share that history with the public using the actual hardware of the period (aircraft, vehicles, etc.). The wing also has a museum containing significant historic artifacts located next to the hangars. The aircraft, as mentioned above, are:
North American B-25J Mitchell, "Show Me"
Grumman (General Motors) TBM-3E Avenger
Aeronca L-3E, "Lil' Show Me"
The Missouri CAF Wing's aircraft participated in the pumpkin drop contest by delivering their payloads from the bomb bays that would have held actual weapons in World War II. Here are some views of their pumpkin drops, with the TBM-3E Avenger's crew taking credit for the most pumpkins on target:
Other participants made their pumpkin drops as well (look closely for the pumpkins):
Other aircraft were also on display and flying throughout the day: