As many of you have noticed as you are scrolling through Facebook, events which pop up in your area. That is how I learned about the CAF (Commemorative Air Force) Air Power History Tour in Titusville, FL which was the weekend of March 10-12, 2023. Their biggest attraction was the only fully restored and flying B-24 Liberator, Diamond Lil which was 25th built out of 18,482. However, I knew I wanted to take a ride in a plane but I was not sure which one. This one was just not speaking to me for that purpose.
After talking with someone about tickets, I learned that the RC-45J was ordered by the Navy in 1940 for use an an aerial photography platform and I knew that was the one I should experience, being a photographer. Of course, I wanted to be able to take photos so I experienced this ride in the co-pilot seat. I was introduced to our pilot, Laura and was excited that it was a female pilot that I was taking this adventure with for the first time. Laura has been flying for 32 years.
Kerri: What was your favorite aircraft to fly over the past 32 years?
Laura: " I do not really have a favorite, as each aircraft has something unique about them. I love to fly though."
Kerri: What has the been the most unique thing you have seen from an aircraft?
Laura: "Hmmm. that is a difficult one. I don't really know, but I can tell you the most disappointing. (laughing) Most people think that fireworks will be really fun or pretty to watch from the sky, but they aren't that exciting."
Kerri: Do you ever get bored giving people rides at these shows?
Laura: "No. Everyone is excited to take a ride and I enjoy being a small part of that experience for them."
The ride was smooth, not what I expected an old aircraft to feel like but it smelled like an Army / Navy store which I chuckled about and I did not expect the pitch to be so high either as I was expecting to be able to see right in front of me. Once we reached our flying altitude, it was so peaceful to see all of the sights I enjoy from the ground such as the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Space Center, launch complexes, Playalinda Beach and BlackPoint Wildlife Drive. I even caught a glimpse of my fence at my house.
After the 20-minute ride, the B-24 had landed and was opened for tours inside. They allowed two at a time as it was a little tight heading to the cockpit. Just imagining it being in use was amazing until I noticed signatures on the inside of the plane which was the highlight of my tour of the B-24. These signatures are mostly from the "Rosie's" who assembled the B-24 along with a sergeant. Rosie the Riveters assembled one B-24's at Willow Run in Michigan every hour.
I was slightly shocked that I was one of the youngest people attending this event when I was there, as most were much older than me. It saddens me that people my age have little interest in our history but I hope that sharing my enthusiasm for learning and exploring, helps provoke others to want to learn and explore more.