TFLM was very excited and honored to participate in the Sioux Falls AirShow 23-24 July, 2016. We want to thank the thousands who came out and saw us, said hello and toured the bomb bay and cockpit of “Betty’s Dream.” We had hundreds upon hundreds of kids which was great fun for our pilots to tell the stories behind out aircraft. The aircraft present at Sioux Falls were the B-25J “Betty’s Dream, P-40k “Aleutian Tiger, Spitfire MkIXc, FG-1D Corsair and flying in the show P-51D “Dakota Kid II” and FM-2P Wildcat. THE TFLM crew and cadre were able to connect with lots of old friends and able to make some special new ones. One in particular stood out.
Claude Hone is so typical of so many WWII vets. He served simply because it was the right thing to do. Claude is not a hero, not an ace, just your basic aviator who did his job under some of the most difficult conditions we could never imagine and came back home to help build a country afterwards. I had the honor and pleasure of spending quite a bit of time with Claude over the past three days (as well as his delightful daughter Nancy) while in Sioux Falls, SD. Originally, it was just going to be for an afternoon for recording his story on video and taking his portrait. Well, we all simply seemed to hit it off and for the next three days, Claude wowed and amazed us with story after story.
We’ll be posting many of his stories we captured on film, but wanted to share this simple yet dramatic one. In the top photo, Claude was very proud even in the hundred degree hangar to show he can still wear his fight jacket from WWII. Above you see the original aviator Ray Ban sunglasses Claude was issues seventy-one years ago. They are still in their original case and Claude can still wear them. Though he will be 96 years young shortly (doesn’t seem a day past 16), he talks about his days flying a Corsair from Henderson Field and then P-51Ds with Joe Foss in the SD Air Nat’l Guard like it was yesterday. With Claude though, it’s the brief stories that get you. See that watch he’s holding in the lower photo. That is the original aviator watch the Marines gave him 71 years ago and its still ticking. The watch band though, that’s the real piece of history. That’s made from the skin of a Zero that was shot down at Henderson Field that he has had all these years! We meet some amazing and memorable vets this past weekend at the Sioux Falls AirShow, but it’s Claude who we struck a real friendship with. An amazing gentleman and vet, a true American that we now call dear friend!