Whitesburg KY

The first airplane I landed

After basic and radio training, I was assigned to Air Sea Rescue work at Langley Field, Va. I was also crew chief of my plane. We flew almost every day, up and down the coast looking for planes or boats needing help.

My pilot was a 50-yearold enlisted man, getting out of the service in a few days. He was a war hero during World War II. He looked for planes, boats, and the enemy, and would call our fighters to do their job.

This day we were returning to base. My pilot would land on a short runway before we got to our base. He would land and halfway down the runway, he would gun the motor and take off, just missing the trees at the end of the runway. It scared me at first.

On this day as he was set up to land, I’m looking at his eyes. He did not look well. I took over the controls and landed the plane.

I asked if should call base. He said he would be okay. We flew back to base and nothing was ever said about the landing. I was not to be flying during this time.

Later, I found I would have gotten a medal if I had spoken up.

(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in California.)

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