EAA AirVenture, July 29 – August 4, 2013

Excitement was literally in the air as thousands of aircraft descended on Oshkosh, WI. More than 500,000 were in attendance to experience 10,000 aircraft arriving for the show including 2,335 homebuilt, vintage, warbirds, ultralights, seaplanes and aerobatic aircraft. With near-perfect weather and a non-stop agenda of activities, flying and entertainment, Oshkosh 2013 brought it all together in one place.

The Texas Flying Legends Museum brought eleven WWII aircraft from its collection: L-5 Sentinel OY-1, B-25J Betty’s Dream, P-51D Dakota Kid, P-51D Little Horse, FG-1D Whistling Death, A6M2-Model 21 Zero Last Samurai, P-40K Aleutian Tiger, FM-2P Wildcat, Harvard Mk. IV, C-53 (C-47) Skytrooper, and TBM-3E Avenger. Several of the planes were included in the daily air shows while others were featured in Warbirds in Review presentations and at other venues.

One of the highlights of the show was the Warbirds in Review D-Day Invasion stripes reenactment. Restoration professionals painted the Texas Flying Legends’ C-53 Skytrooper with invasion stripes to remember the D-Day invasion preparations of June 1944. Also, this plane is named after Murray Lawler’s Duchess of Dakota so the nose art was recreated. Read the full story of Murray and his real Duchess, his wife Margaret, and see pictures of the newly painted plane at www.texasflyinglegends.org/skytrooper.

Two of the Texas Flying Legends received Aircraft (Lindy) Awards, acknowledging the tireless effort necessary to create an aircraft that’s truly best of show. The Harvard Mark IV was awarded the Reserve Grand Champion Post WWII Era and a Golden Wrench award. The Stinson L-5 Sentinel received a Golden Wrench and a Preservation award. Congratulations to the crews that restore and maintain these warbirds!

In addition to honoring the pilots and aircraft of the past, the C-53 Skytrooper served as transport to Oshkosh for nine WWII veterans representing the history of WWII airmen who flew the kinds of aircraft that are in the collection of the Texas Flying Legends Museum. Here are a few stories that just begin to illustrate the virtue, strength, pride and valor that each member of our armed forces carried with them during a period of time when our country needed them most.

F4f Wildcat and F4U Corsair pilot Col. Joe McPhail earned his private pilot certificate in the summer of 1941 and joined the Marines on October 18. He went on active duty December 4, three days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

McPhail was assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron VMF 441 flying patrol missions in the Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat in the Central Pacific Theater. After returning to the states, he gave fighter instruction in the F4U Corsair. He was assigned to the most successful Marine Fighting squadron of 1945, VMF-323, aka the “Death Rattlers.” In just a few weeks they were credited with shooting down 124.5 Japanese planes and counted a dozen ace pilots. At the outbreak of the Korean conflict, McPhail was assigned to VMFA-214 “Black Sheep” Squadron and was given short notice to get ready. The Fighting 214th was the first Marine Squadron to see action in Korea. Col. McPhail is credited with 240 combat missions and two air-to-air victories. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 11 air medals.

Another hero we will highlight is P-47 and P-51 pilot Don “Mac” McKibben. Mac obtained his private pilot certificate in a Piper J-3 Cub through the Civilian Pilot Training Program in June 1941. He had train tickets to join the Royal Canadian Air Force on December 8, 1941, but the war intervened at Pearl Harbor.

Mac began U.S. Army Air Corps training in a Ryan PT-22, progressed to the Vultee BT-13 and North American T-6 Texan. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and awarded his wings at Luke Field, AZ. Assigned to the 21st Fighter Squadron of the 352nd FG, Mac trained in the P-47 and later in the P-51. With 80 combat missions in both types, he was credited with at least one aerial victory.

Other veterans honored during the Air Venture Celebration were: David Born, 479th FG, USAAF; Merton Hansen, VMO-5, USMC; Clarence “Clancy” Hess, 1st Marine Air Wing, USMC; Bill “Tiger” Lyons, 355th FG, USAAF; Margaret Lawler, WWII War Bride; Herb Stachler, 366th FG, USAAF ; and Vic Tatelman, 345th BG, USAAF.

Veterans are the real legends, but Texas Flying Legends’ pilots are legends in the making. Their dedication, support and enthusiasm make our mission possible; they make the history come alive, honoring the past generations and inspiring the leaders of tomorrow. Learn more about the veterans and our crew.

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