Warbirds

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.

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