By: Christopher Davis | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2014
Col. Bob Prater in the hangar with restorations in progress.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 8, and plan on attending the Commemorative Air Force Spirit of Tulsa Squadron’s Wings Over Tulsa and the 13th annual Big Band Hangar Dance.
The CAF’s mission is to keep aviation history alive through the acquisition, restoration and preservation of combat aircraft. Talk to Col. Robert Prater about any of the planes in the hangar or in one of the many pictures hung in the office, and you will get a history lesson even better than a college course could offer. He explains how a particular model was used to transport injured soldiers and how another was part of a batch sold by the United States to the French for their effort in North Africa. It’s enough to leave one reeling from the incredible, sometimes overlooked, details involved in the early years of aircraft design.
As a curator of many restored combat aircraft, the CAF participates in air shows across the country. The Spirit of Tulsa Squadron is no different, and proudly shows its World War II era Fairchild PT-19 around the region. When it’s not showing off, it rests in the CAF hangar at Jenks-Riverside Airport.
Additionally, the CAF honors combat veterans by providing flights in the very planes they have restored. “It is important to us to give something back to our veterans, and this is our way of saying thanks,” adds CAF Spirit of Tulsa Squadron Colonel Bob Prater. However, flights in a World War II era PT-19 are not reserved exclusively for veterans. The CAF sells flight tickets to the general public as a fundraiser.
This month, the public will have a special opportunity to ride in the PT-19 and support the CAF. On Saturday, November 8, the CAF Spirit of Tulsa Squadron will hold its biggest event of the year with a full day of activities.
The day begins with Wings Over Tulsa. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Spirit of Tulsa Squadron will provide free honor flights for WWII veterans and rides to the public (with purchase of flight ticket). There will also be plenty of exhibits featuring vintage WWII memorabilia, military vehicles, model aircraft and more. Attendees are invited to tour the facility, learn about the history of aircraft and vehicles, and bid in a silent auction. Daytime admission is free for all ages. Flight passengers must be 12 years or older.
As the afternoon wraps up, attendees will move into the hangar for the Big Band Hangar Dance, officially kicking off the 13th annual soirée. The 18-piece Sounds of Music Orchestra will provide the soundtrack for the evening, performing 1940s-era music. The Big Band Hangar Dance has become a favorite amongst swing dancers, with several troupes attending every year from around the country. Free swing dance lessons will be provided from 6 to 7 p.m.
Recommended attire is casual, military or vintage. There will be great opportunities for photographs and a chance to pick up some vintage memorabilia at the PX, Vintage Store and the silent auction – all for the worthy cause of preserving our history and educating
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Christopher Davis is an educator and musician, as well as a writer. A California native, he resides in Tulsa with his wife, two sons and a modest menagerie of pets. When he isn't inspiring young minds, you will most likely find him spending time with his family or playing drums and percussion with Project Huckleberry or the Movetet. In addition to Value News, Davis also writes for Currentland. You can view his work at https://seedavis.wordpress.com.