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Archive for March, 2015

Got a chance to crawl around inside the type of bomber my grandfather flew, a B-24 Liberator, today as several Collings Foundation aircraft visited our town. America’s most-produced plane of World War II, these heavy bombers typically dropped 5,000-pound loads of explosives deep behind enemy lines across Europe and in every theater. B-24s were harder to fly but carried heavier payloads farther and faster than the B-17. There are only two operational B-24s left in the U.S., and it was a great opportunity to look around and into this aircraft on a beautiful day. My dad and I are repairing a model B-24 and I can tell you, those distinctive oval tail fin pieces look a lot smaller in plastic.

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Visitors get to step up a little ladder into the tail and go through the airplane up towards the cockpit. The B-24J would typically have had a crew of 10, including gunners at the nose, turrets, waist and tail. This particular plane is painted to represent the Witchcraft, which flew 130 missions, the most in the Mighty Eighth Air Force: http://electraforge.com/brooke/flightsims/b24_flights/witchcraftHistorical.html

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Seen in the background here is Collings’ restored B-17 Flying Fortress, which we also got to see in the air a few times as it passed over.

In a 2006 CBS interview, a flight engineer from the original Witchcraft tells how he came up with and painted her nose art: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/witchcraft-flies-again-for-vets/

Climbing through the B-24 (I did get to sight and aim the waist guns):

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The planes will be here Sunday as well, and visiting them costs $12 adults/$6 kids. Taking a half-hour flight in one is also possible, for $450. Till you get that saved up, here’s the video version 🙂

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Here’s Robert Earl Keen as Antonio Vivaldi opening his eighth annual benefit in Kerrville for an organization he said “it’s my passion to tell people about”: the Hill Country Youth Orchestra.vivaldi crop

Keen told the crowd at the Feb. 21 show that on his travels around the country, he’ll get to talking with people about the orchestra, and they’ll say, “Oh yes, we’ve got something like that here,” and he’ll say, “No; no, you don’t.” The HCYO provides full tuition-and-fees scholarships for each of its hundred-plus students.

He’s supporting his bluegrass album “The Happy Prisoner” right now, so his part of the concert had an old-timey feel — just not as old as Vivaldi:

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But first, the kiddos cut loose with the classical goodies:

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(Apologies for fuzzy phone photos taken at some distance)

Watch for next year’s show, likely to be in February again, and go check it out if you can. It’s a lovely night at Kerrville’s Cailloux Theater, and this year it raised $65,000 for those scholarships. Keen closed his part of the show with a completely acoustic set, playing the special guitar they auctioned off to raise part of that money:

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It was beautiful.

(Fellow Aggie/Kerrville note: The auction also included Johnny Manziel autographed memorabilia. Keen is Class of ’78, Manziel is ’15)

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