Rare warbirds appear in Gilmer
Nov 14, 2010 | 1490 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo / Phil Mckanna<br>
THIS FLYING TIGER World War II warbird, restored by Ray Kinney of Dallas, will be among the vintage planes on display at this afternoon’s Veterans’ Gala at Fox Stephens Field/Gilmer Municipal Airport. The event, in honor of veterans, is open to the public.
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The Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum is holding its Veterans’ Gala, in honor of all who served their country and their relatives, today (Nov. 13) at Fox Stephens Field-Gilmer Municipal Airport.

The Texas V-Tails will lead off the aerial tributes at 1 p.m., flying over the airport in salute to the veterans and landing to display their aircraft.

The V-tails are organized by Wayne Collins of Mineola. They fly out of Wood County Airport. In recent years the V-Tails have become famous for their huge formations of Beechcraft Bonanza Aircraft flying into the annual Oshkosh Fly- In all in the same massive formation.

There will be several unique, one of a kind antique aircraft on the tarmac and inside the museum in Gilmer, said Steve Dean, president of the museum and coordinator for today’s event.

“Come early and stick around...’cause you won’t want to miss any of these wonderful examples of aircraft that helped forge our military machine into a formidable force for freedom,” said Dean.

Kent Chipman from Hallsville will patrol the tarmac portraying the finest of U.S. Army MPs in WW II astride his immacutely restored WW II Harley Davidson Military Motorcycle.

Chipman will lead a parade of Patriot Guard Riders displaying and honoring the Stars and Stripes.

Aviation art will be on display and on sale in the hangar. The Friends of the Super Sabre will have a display table with information about the F-100 Jet Fighter displays expected soon in Gilmer. Civil Air Patrol will also have information available.

A formation flight of Vietnam-era warbirds will pay tribute to the veterans at 4:30 p.m. with the Missing Man formation.

Action starts at noon and goes until 5 p.m. when a raffle drawing will be held for a Piper Cherokee Airplane. Raffle tickets are available at the event for $50 per ticket. The prize is valued at more than $25,000, and only 1,100 total tickets have been printed for sale, Dean said.

Concessions at the event will be provided by The Range, Gilmer’s newest ice-house style eatery, located at the Y-intersection of Hwy. 155 and U.S. 271 south of Gilmer. Brisket, pulled pork, sausage on a stick, as well as hot dogs for the kids, and yam pie for dessert will round out the menu.

Gilmer Mayor Buck Cross is hosting a reception in the terminal building, starting at 2:30 p.m.

At 3:30 p.m., the Cedar Creek Bluegrass Band will entertain on the tarmac while warbirds are flying and museum exhibits are displayed.

The event is a fundraiser for the museum. A special lanyard with a patriotic hang tag will be available to patrons who make a $10 donation to the museum.

Bring lawn chairs and blankets and come out to enjoy the day, Dean said.

Accessible parking is ample, and accessible restrooms are available in the main airport terminal building.

The event will also have a barnstormer fee,l harkening back to the grass runways and open cockpit days of aviation.

“The program is casual this year—no speeches, no proclamations—no ceremonies. Just being patriotic and enjoying the feeling of being free,” Dean said. “Only in America. And only because of Veterans. Going all the way back to the birth of this nation.”

He said “the whole purpose is for Gilmer to show appreciation to its Veterans and their families on Veterans’ Day.

Ray Kinney in Dallas has confirmed that he plans to fly the CAF Tex Hill Flying Tiger P-40 to Gilmer on Saturday, Dean said.

“I love the sound of those radial engines, but my heart still skips a beat when the sweet song of the 12-cylinder Merlin engine sings out—.and the song of the P-40 with its 12- cylinder Allison is what Ray Kinney is bringing to Gilmer on Saturday.

Just in time for the 2010 Airshow season, Kinney completed a massive three year overhaul and restoration on the extremely rare warbird. Ray Kinney of Dallas is bringing the freshly restored CAF P-40 for Gala visitors to see up close.

The P-40 is in WW II livery just as flown by Tex Hill in China in the Flying Tigers.

Joining the P-40 is an equally rare and historical C-47.

Glover from Mt. Pleasant is bringing his freshly restored in authentic D-Day livery WW II C-47, just back from its 75th Anniversary Tour of the C-47s.

This C-47 is full of WW II history. Glover spent 10 years bringing the C-47 back to her original livery, including D-Day stripes and mission markings.

“Not to be outdone in the historical military airplane department, Terry Sullivan from Shreveport will display his UC-78 Bamboo Bomber, just painstakingly rebuilt from ground up and restored in 2nd Bomb Group Livery.

“These are only three, but a very impressive three, historic aircraft out of more than a dozen warbirds that will be on display and flying to honor our veterans Saturday,” Dean said.

The museum’s new T-37 Jet Tweety Bird is on display in the museum; Friends of the Super Sabre will man a tabletop display with information about the F-100 Super Sabres that are soon to join Gilmer’s growing museum displays.

“What an exciting way for Gilmer to honor our veterans as the State of Texas begins its celebration of the Centennial of Aviation in Texas,” he said.

Dean explained that the year 2010 marks the centennial of flight in Texas. Since Frenchman Louis Paulhan’s first flight in Texas on Feb. 18, 1910, Texas has been on the leading edge of aviation. The first U.S. military flight was in March 1910 from Fort Sam Houston, beginning Texas’s long tradition of military aviation. The first Texan to fly in Texas was L.L. Walker Jr. in Houston, who built and flew his own plane in 1910, exemplifying the spirit that has driven the aviation industry in Texas ever since.

“And Gilmer’s own Air Force Test Pilot and Blackbird Test Director “Silver Fox” Air Force Col Robert L. Stephens. set the world’s absolute speed and altitude records in the super secret SR-71 Blackbird on May 1, 1965—world records that the Blackbird holds unchallenged to this very day,” Dean said.

America is a world leader and the greatest country in the world. Staying the course through miltary might, steadfastly following the basic tenets upon which our country was formed, will preserve America’s role as a world leader for today and for our children and grandchildren, Dean said.

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