Old aviators and old airplanes

P-51

This is a good little story, about a vivid memory of a P-51 and its pilot, by a fellow who was 12 years old in Canada in 1967.

It was to take to the air. They said it had flown in during the night from some U.S. Airport, the pilot had been tired.

I marveled at the size of the plane, dwarfing the Pipers and Canucks tied down by her. It was much larger than in the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from
days gone by. The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then stepped into the pilot’s lounge. He was an older man, his wavy hair was gray and tossed. It looked like it might have been combed, say, around the turn of the century. His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn – it smelled old and genuine. Old Glory was prominently sewn to its shoulders. He projected a
quiet air of proficiency and pride, devoid of arrogance. He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal (Expo-67, Air Show) then walked across the tarmac.

After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check the pilot returned to the flight lounge to ask if anyone would be available to stand by with fire extinguishers while
he “flashed the old bird up, just to be safe.” Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by with an extinguisher after brief instruction on its use: “If you see a fire, point, then pull this lever!” I later became a firefighter, but that’s another story.

The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like a mirror from fuel fumes as the huge prop started to rotate. One manifold, then another, and yet another barked — I stepped back
with the others. In moments the Packard-built Merlin engine came to life with a thunderous roar, blue flames knifed from her manifolds. I looked at the others’ faces, there was no
concern. I lowered the bell of my extinguisher. One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge. We did.

Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his pre flight run-up. He’d taxied to the end of runway 19, out of sight. All went quiet for several seconds, we raced from the
lounge to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of the P-51 as she started down the runway. We could not. There we stood, eyes fixed to a spot half way down
19. Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before, like a furious hell spawn set loose; something mighty this way was coming. “Listen to that thing!” said the
controller.

In seconds the Mustang burst into our line of sight. Its tail was already off and it was moving faster than anything I’d ever seen by that point on 19. Two-thirds the way down 19
the Mustang was airborne with her gear going up. The prop tips were supersonic; we clasped our ears as the Mustang climbed hellish fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the dog-day
haze.

We stood for a few moments in stunned silence trying to digest what we’d just seen. The radio controller rushed by me to the radio.

“Kingston tower calling Mustang?”

He looked back to us as he waited for an acknowledgment. The radio crackled, “Go aheadKingston.”

“Roger Mustang. Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is clear for a low level pass.” I stood in shock because the controller had, more or less, just asked the pilot to
return for an impromptu air show!

The controller looked at us. “What?” He asked. “I can’t let that guy go without asking. I couldn’t forgive myself!”

The radio crackled once again. “Kingston, do I have permission for a low level pass, east towest, across the field?”

“Roger Mustang, the circuit is clear for an east to west pass.”

“Roger, Kingston, I’m coming out of 3000 feet, stand by.”

We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes fixed toward the eastern haze. The sound was subtle at first, a high-pitched whine, a muffled screech, a distant scream. Moments later the P-51 burst through the haze. Her airframe straining against positive G’s and gravity, wing tips spilling contrails of condensed air, prop-tips again supersonic as the burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of the field shredding and tearing the air.

At about 500 mph and 150 yards from where we stood she passed with the old American pilot saluting. Imagine. A salute! I felt like laughing, I felt like crying, she glistened, she screamed, the building shook, my heart pounded. Then the old pilot pulled her up and rolled, and rolled, and rolled out of sight into the broken clouds and indelibly into my memory. I’ve never wanted to be an American more than on that day. It was a time when many nations in the world looked to America as their big brother, a steady and even-handed beacon of security who navigated difficult political water with grace and style; not unlike the pilot who’d just flown into my memory. He was proud, not arrogant; humble, not a braggart; old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its best.

That America will return one day, I know it will. Until that time, I’ll just send off this story. Call it a reciprocal salute, to the old American pilot who wove a memory for a young Canadian that’s lasted a lifetime.

When friends become family…

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The passing of H. Ian “WWWringer” Smuck has cast a pall over the WingWalkers since his son, Christopher, gave us the bad news.  I came to the WingWalkers via the Taipans Squadron back in 2004, and Wringer was the XO, under WWReaper at the time.  I will never forget the first time I flew with the WW’s; using IL-2 (which we still use today!).  I was in a Bf109, and didn’t know about Shift-F1.  Ian had a voice that was unmistakable, and he told me how to fix my “problem with the gunsight.”  He walked me through some things that first session, and was still walking me through all things aviation up until he passed.

I was talking to my wife about how much Ian’s passing was bothering me.  I met him in person exactly one time, at our reunion in Dayton.  He was the same cool, calm, and collected guy in person, that he was on TeamSpeak.  I have realized over the years that the friends we make online, and talk to as much as we talk to the friends we see regularly, become as close as family.  I’ve said it before, but this is my second family, and Ian was a GIGANTIC part of it.

I’ll miss his humor…err…humour 😉 I’ll miss his flying skills when he was on your team, I’ll miss the way he gave all of us tips on doing things the correct way, and I’ll miss him fixing little problems, like Shift-F1.  Mostly though, I’ll just miss hearing his voice on TeamSpeak, the familiar voice of a friend that we will all miss dearly.

Rest in peace Ian.  You epitomized “Once and Always.”

~~Salute!~~ H. Ian “WWWringer” Smuck

One of Ian's happiest days, getting to ride in the last flying Lancaster

The Wing Walkers (virtual) Combat Squadron is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own, after a long illness. H. Ian “WWWringer” Smuck has been a long time member of our squadron, and we are honored to have known him and called him friend.

Ian held many positions within the squadron, including Commander, Executive Officer and Training Officer. He always kept a calm demeanor even amongst the most rambunctious online events where tempers tended to flare. His was a voice of calm and reason, and which the WW squadron always listened to with deep respect.

Ian always made every effort to participate in every squadron event he could, and he attended all the “WW Gathering” real life meet-up events.

Ian was a part of our family, and he never failed to share his own family’s highlights with us. Through him, we followed his son Chris’s adventures through glider school, all the way to his becoming an officer candidate in the Canadian military. Ian was always happy to share his life with us, and was never afraid to admit how proud he was of his wife, his son … and his dogs. :)

Ian, we will miss you.

One of Ian's happiest days, getting to ride in the last flying Lancaster

One of Ian’s happiest days, getting to ride in the last flying Lancaster

WW Forums going offline for software update

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Just a head’s-up to let folks know the WW forums will be going offline for a bit while some required maintenance is being performed. This is a full update of our forum’s software. Should be completed fairly quickly, but posting this here in case something goes amiss with the process.

 

 

WWDubya awarded prestigious Art Stacy Memorial Award

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The following is the commendation letter posted by the Commanding Officer of the Wing Walkers virtual Combat Squadron, Ron “WWSpardog” Street, on October 4, 2014 :

The “Art Stacy Memorial Award”, commemorates the life and friendship of Art “WWKat” Stacy, who was the first WW member to have passed away.

For those squad mates present tonight who did not have the privilege to know Art Stacy, he was a beloved member of this squadron. Mr. Stacy was a long serving member of the Wing Walkers virtual squadron, until his passing in June of 2006.

During those years, Art left a legacy that all WW pilot’s should aspire to reach.

Many of us who were members of other squadrons through 2006, flew against him during WW campaigns or multi-player co-ops.

Art was known by two names within the Wing Walkers virtual flight simulation community: first as WWWillie, then as WWKat.

Whatever his name on-line, Art Stacy was considered a gracious pilot whether he flew as the flight lead, wingman or as an opponent. To us who flew with –or against — him, WWKat was known as a gentleman and a man whom virtual pilots liked and respected.

Since his passing, only three members of Wing Walkers’ have earned the honor of having their name etched on the Art Stacy “WWKat” Memorial Award.

— The first Wing Walker pilot to receive this memorial award was WWSandman (2006),

— two years later (2008), WWTaco’s name was engraved on the memorial,

— and in 2012, WWHappy became the third pilot to be so honored.

Tonight, the 2014 Memorial Award recipient continues to serve the Wing Walkers’ squadron with distinction as a friend, comrade, leader and gentleman. He is the active WW member who best represents the ideals and philosophies of the Wing Walkers’ squadron.

So, it is with great pleasure for WWPlague; me, as Commander, to present to Jay “WWDubya” Stein, this prestigious Memorial Award. His name is engraved for all Wing Walkers’ to remember that now, and in the future WWDubya is one of the best and highly honored WW pilots in its ranks.

In addition to the Award, Jay receives a framed certificate for him to proudly display in his “man cave.”

Congratulations, Jay!

A smiling Jay Stein proudly displays his Art Stacy Memorial Award plaque and certificate. The plaque will be forwarded to the next recipient in due course, the certificate is Jay's permanent  memento of this award.

A smiling Jay Stein proudly displays his Art Stacy Memorial Award plaque and certificate. The plaque will be forwarded to the next recipient in due course, the certificate is Jay’s permanent memento of this award.

WWDubya relaxing in his man cave (aka virtual cockpit) proudly displaying his Art Stacy Memorial plaque and certificate

WWDubya relaxing in his man cave (aka virtual cockpit) proudly displaying his Art Stacy Memorial plaque and certificate

Calendar issue

So much for the idea of making sure things are updated… I’ve installed the latest update for the calendar app, but it’s broken. Still sort of appears over there to the right, but it’s not appearing as it should.

I really don’t want to remove it -yet- but it looks like I may need to. Out of time to fix it now, already late for work.

More later…

WWTharn awarded Certificate of Appreciation

Certificate of Appreciation as awarded to WWTharn

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Sorry about the delay in getting this on the front page… better late than never. This past Tuesday, 11Mar2014, most of us in the squadron were pleasantly surprised by the Commander when he announced the presentation of a Wing Walkers’ Squadron Certificate of Appreciation to WWTharn, in recognition for his long tenure of service as Squadron Commander.

Here is that Certificate of Appreciation:

Certificate of Appreciation as awarded to WWTharn

Certificate of Appreciation as awarded to WWTharn

Squadron Change of Command

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Announcing a shake-up of the WW Staff, with WWTharn retiring as Commander (and going back to being an active member/pilot.) The new Staff is as follows:

Commanding Officer: WWSpardog

Executive Officer: WWGeezer

Recruiting Officer: WWPierre

Training Officer: WWLily

Administration Officer: WWSandMan

Adjutant: WWMojo

Merit Officer: WWDubya

Congratulations to the new Command and Staff members!