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wave man TDY staff
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I was in the backlot, working over the company's ancient air compressor rig, a bit before lunch today. I was cursing the company's cheap-ass attitude, and the venerable unit's refusal to die with dignity.

I became aware of a low rumble in the cloudy skies, the sound of large, radial engines. Looking up, I saw an old C-47 Skytrain (DC-3 to airliner buffs, the Dakota to many across the Atlantic) climbing with deliberate grace.

Now these can be seen occasionally at air shows, and often on TV, but seeing one in it's natural environment, is another thing entirely. A dark shape against the grey clouds, I couldn't make out any markings. All I could do is watch, and smile.
And think of all the old bird has done and seen.

Cursing, sweating, ground personnel, loading bundles aboard, to be dropped over Burma's jungles, to men fighting far behind enemy lines.

20 year old pilots, fighting to control the aircraft, and maintain formation, to deliver their cargo of grim, grease-painted, over-burdened young men, and drop them into the dark skies of Normandy.

Nurses and wounded GIs, winging to hospitals.

Starving people, recently our enemies, gazing up, as the aircraft barely cleared buildings, to bring food into blockaded Berlin.

More grim men, from war-savaged Europe, standing in the door, to step into the air over Indochina.

Families flying home for Christmas.

My scout buddies and me, winging over KC, in a reliable old bird, over 40 years ago, because some dad had a buddy, and they agreed that we should experience something that they had. And for a brief moment, be a part of living history.

She droned off into the southeast, and I watched her all the way. I just can't get the smile off my face.
 

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Walk in Beauty
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Great story for a friday afternooon. Dog I can relate, but this is a bird of a different feather. We were on our way to grizzle peak (N Cali) for our annual vision quest. the roads wind through mountainess terrains along side a river, cant remember the rivers name though, anyway we spotted a huge bald eagle on a rock in the middle of the river, we flip a u and pulled to the side and watched him, after about fifteen minutes of a staring contest, three flaps of his huge wing span, and he was airborne. Ive never witnessed an eagle in his natural environment, it was a wierd but good feeling. Anyway like you said "She droned off into the southeast, and I watched her all the way. I just can't get the smile off my face".
 

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Go ahead- make my day!
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I know the feeling...

A couple of years ago, on my way home from work, I had a similar experience. I drive past a municipal airport every day, to & from work. There had been an airshow the previous weekend, and suddenly, I'm watching a B-17 roll down the tarmac and take off right above me. It was a beautiful sight, and I had the same thoughts you did PD. Just this one plane, a remnant of the thousands that helped destroy the Axis war machine, still airworthy and awesome. I watched it bank and fly off to the west. I smile every time I remember it. :)
 

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We get to jump out of them every now and again at Ft. Bragg. The Forestry Service has one they use and they lend it to the 82nd for fun jumps. The 82nd Airborne Divisions Command Sergeant Major sponsors the jump, so not just anyone gets to do them. I was invited to jump once, but for some reason the bird couldnt make it. I was really bummed about that one.
 

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I had the perfect picture that I wanted to take just a couple of days ago. Very nice sunset here and an old Herk(C-130) was making touch and go-s I think on the runway. The backdrop was the very nice sunset and I wanted to take a picture of the Herk taking off. Needless to say they probably saw me with the camera in my hand, so they stopped practicing. It was very nice, even ole -135s sitting on the ground makes me smile.
 
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