Tomorrow is the 6th of June. Sixty-nine years ago, the allied forces at war with Hitler’s Germany invaded northern France in what will always be known as D-Day. On that morning in 1944, when Ohioans woke up, the battle in Europe had already been going on for hours. The airborne troops were the first ones to enter the conflict. One local paratroop veteran of that battled died recently, but told his story to our aviation commentator Dan Patterson.
Seventy years ago this week American aviators were at war in Europe. In airplanes known as the B-17 Flying Fortress they were flying bombing missions over Germany. One of those planes, nicknamed “The Memphis Belle” flew its 25th combat mission on May 17th, 1943, and then came home to the US with its crew. One of the Memphis Belle’s first stops was Wright Field in Dayton, where today she’s being restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Aviation commentator Dan Patterson has a different kind of story this week, not about a famous date in history - but instead about the connection between flight and time. You can always spot a pilot, he says, by his or her outsized wristwatch. It's a relationship that goes back to the earliest flights.
Thomas Griffin died in late February - he was one of 80 American servicemen who flew a legendary mission in World War Two. They were known as Doolittle's Raiders. Griffin lived in Cincinnati and he was 96 years old. Now only four members of that elite group survive.
WYSO aviation commentator Dan Patterson knew Griffin and tells us his story.
Presidents and flight had a quiet start in the summer of 1909, when Orville returned to Ft. Myer to complete the Army trials that ended abruptly with his crash in September of the previous year. The Army allowed the Wrights to return as they had already more than fulfilled the contract. This time there were many observers, including fellow Ohioan President Williams Howard Taft. A tent was set up, and he sat with the Wrights' sister Katharine.