Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Warbirds Gather in Marion, Illinois to Salute Veterans

By Leo Cachat  and Fred Harl
The Aero Experience was on the road early Saturday morning as we set off at 5 a.m. heading for Southern Illinois Airport in Carbondale, IL to photograph the vast array of warbirds that were expected to takeoff around 9 a.m. for Williamson Co. Regional Airport in Marion, IL.  As we entered the Southern Illinois Airport around 7 a.m. there were no warbirds in sight, so we tracked down a gentleman leaving the airport and inquired about the aircraft. He told us that they had departed last night and were in Marion, IL. Undeterred by the setback, we headed a little further east to Williamson Co. Regional Airport. 
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).

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