As we walked down the steps of the public library yestreday afternoon, I caught sight of a what I took at first to be a small plane towing a blimp or some other such advertisemental extravagance. But an earnest second look revealed that the improbably-large object next to the small plane was a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (one of the most significant of the bombers used by the U.S. during the Second World War). The small plane was a fighter of the same era, while a short distance behind followed an additional escort of three more fighters. One of the fighters in the second group was unmistakably a North American P-51 Mustang (the sports car of the fighters of that day), and I am reasonably sure that at least one of the others was a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (my personal favourite). But I am embarrassed to say that even with binoculars (which were handily in the back of the car) I was able to tell little else of these beautiful planes as they turned wide over the neighbourhood and droned coöperatively back overhead for optimum viewing.
At one time I could have reeled off a whole a string of statistics about all five planes (not to mention confidently identify them), even though this was the first time I have ever seen any of them airborne. After an adolescence of voracious research and modelling, I am now woefully rusty on my warplanes of any era; yet another area of knowledge I have allowed to crumble and fade away with disuse. Still, it was a fine sight, and although he probably didn’t fully appreciate it, I explained to the Boy in detail what we were staring at. He seemed pleased, and it was moment I am glad I could share with him.