Whitesburg KY

My first air show

May 6 and May 7, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., put on a great air show. It was called Wings Over Solano County.

The show featured the USAF Thunderbirds and many other aerobatics performers. The show is put on yearly to show what the men and women of the United States military are doing for the country.

It brought back old memories to this old hillbilly. I was in the first show the military put on at Langley Field, Va., in early 1948. It was before the Air Force was born. We were called the Army Air Corps then.

The Americans and British put on a great show. The British had their first jets in the air. This would be their first show.

The part I played was as a crew chief in the back seat of an L-5 Air Sea Rescue aircraft, working the controls of the tanks that held DDT. We were spraying the swamps next to the base for mosquitoes while the people on ground watched.

The last job we had was picking up the wreckage of a British jet that had been flying upside down and had crashed right in front of our hanger. The pilot was safe.

As a young teenager from Jenkins, that was the first crash that I had witnessed right in front of me as I was watching the show. My Air Sea Rescue team was asked to load the wreckage onto a flatbed truck and haul it to our hanger.

Our inspector went over the plane for weeks to try and find out what caused the crash. It turned out to be pilot error.

When I write my stories for The Mountain Eagle, my kids and grandkids ask me, “Did you do all the things you write about?” There are some things I cannot write or talk about.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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