Yesterday, Memorial Day, I went with my nephews, niece and sister to visit The Museum of Flight.
We arrived just after Brigadier General Richard “Steve” Ritchie of the Air Force addressed the crowd. Ritchie shot down five MIG-21 fighters during the Vietnam War.
We did get the chance to hear Bill Wilson, an Air Force pilot who flew F-111s in Vietnam.
“He became a prisoner of war for a short time after being shot down over enemy territory. On December 22nd, 1972, while attacking a target in vicinity of Hanoi, Bill’s aircraft was shot down after an assumed lucky shot to an engine gearbox. After a valiant escape and evasion lasting a few days, including a near rescue by a HH-53C “Jolly Green Giant” while under heavy ground fire, Bill Wilson and his crewmate Bob Sponeybarger become POWs. They were repatriated on March 29th, 1973.”
Amazingly, there is an audio recording of radio communication between Bill and his rescuers, made during the operation.
We then went on to tour the place, which has numerous exhibits, first stopping at the cafe for a bite to eat. While they were eating, I toured through the main area, where there are many planes and helicopters on display.
Some hang from the ceiling, others are placed on the ground. There seem to be hundreds of them. The museum could easily take up an entire day. It closes early, at five, so we only had a few hours.
Thankfully, my nephews like playing the flight simulator in the World War I area, otherwise I might have missed it. Since my great-great uncle served in the AEF and is buried in France, I have a particular interest in the First World War.