Friday, December 02, 2005

Some of you honored visitors may have noticed a link to "" over on the right there. Today's picture is of my parents and me standing in front of the P-51D Mustang fighter that my Dad flew in 1945 out of England on bomber escort missions. Captain Tordoff is on the right. When I was a kid I used to day dream about flying my dad's plane when I grew up. Because I was a smart kid, I knew that it was only a dream and the plane was already long gone. About twenty years ago an entrepreneur in Florida contacted my dad by tracking him through the pre-web world of public records with dogged determination. He told Bud that his plane had been found in the Dominican Air Force and this guy was bringing it into the country to restore it and put the plane in a museum. That never came to pass and instead the fellow sold it to a group in California that turned out to be a museum owned by Paul Allen (Microsoft). Mr. Allen has put together a museum of flyable war aircraft. My dad's P-51D was totally renovated. In fact, it is the most complete renovation ever done on a P-51D Mustang. They even went so far as to construct a machine to weave the cloth covers on wire just as it was done in 1945 so they could replicate the exact weave patterns of each wire type in the aircraft. Today, the plane is as close as it can be to how it existed the day my dad flew it for the last time in World War II. It has six .50 caliber browning machine guns in the wings. This is a seriously fine vehicle. I did not get to fly it but I did get to sit in it and work the controls and imagine the impossible. My folks and I traveled to near Seattle to visit the aircraft and the museum it is in last summer. Mr. Allen has some other pretty cool toys besides this one. The museum was breathtaking, just absolutely amazing. Almost all of the planes in it, from many countries and every world war, are flown regularly just like this plane. I strongly suggest to anyone visiting this blog to link to the site and check out some of the footage there.

Bud scored nine and a half (two guys helped on one) kills, received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, sixteen Oak Leaf Clusters, and Lord knows what all. He went back to college and never flew again after he mustered out of the Air Force. I am in awe of him as are all the aircraft people associated with the Mustang at the museum. He says it was the time in his life when he felt most alive. Go figure; a twenty year old flying a plane with1200 horsepower and six fifties at four hundred miles an hour and that's before combat adrenaline kicks in. It also was pretty scary. Still, he scored kills on both the single engine and double engine type Messerschmidt jets, which was very unusual given the fact that they were much faster than the Mustangs. Well, suffice it to say it was very gratifying to realize some small part of a long distant dream from my childhood. I sure do appreciate the service my dad performed for our country. I am really glad he prevailed in combat too.


Blogger Al Maviva said...

Jim, please thank your old man for his service on my behalf - just tell him it's from a much younger and much less distinguished vet. Men in his generation gave up a lot so that the rest of us could live in near absolute freedom, and in a level of peace previously unknown in the world. I am thankful they did, and in awe; I'm not sure we're capable anymore of doing what they did.

6:20 AM  

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