By: Christopher Davis | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2013
Jim Mills and Bob Prater with a WWII-era Fairchild PT-19.
Who doesn’t get a thrill from the roar of an engine inside a World War II era combat plane? Just the view alone is enough to give one goose bumps. The history, the emotion, the honor associated with the era can be overwhelming. How often does a person get the chance to see one of these planes up close? How often does one get a chance to actually ride in a 70-year-old open-cockpit aircraft? You can do all of this and more, while supporting one of the most interesting nonprofit organizations around – the Commemorative Air Force. Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 9 and plan on attending the CAF Spirit of Tulsa Squadron’s Wings Over Tulsa and the 12th annual Big Band Hangar Dance at RL Jones airport.
The Commemorative Air Force’s main objective is the acquisition, restoration and preservation of combat aircraft. While much of what they do in restoring aircraft happens behind the scenes in hangars and workshops, the CAF’s diligence in preservation and education yields some highly visible and appreciated results.
As keeper 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 not travelling to air shows and museums, the plane sees flight time in Tulsa, where it takes passengers on educational tours and honor flights.
The CAF honors combat veterans by providing flights in the very planes they have restored. “Some of these veterans are in their 90s,” says Jim Mills, CAF public relations volunteer. “It is important to us to give something back to our veterans, and this is our way of saying thanks,” added CAF Spirit of Tulsa Squadron Unit Leader Bob Prater.
A flight in a World War II era PT-19 is not reserved exclusively for veterans. The CAF sells flight tickets to the general public as a fundraiser. Tickets generally cost $85 for adults and children 12 and older.
This month, the public will have a special opportunity to ride in the PT-19 and support the CAF. On Saturday, November 9, the CAF Spirit of Tulsa Squadron will hold its biggest event of the year with a full day of activities.
The day kicks off 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 aircrafts and vehicles, and bid in a silent auction. Daytime admission for Wings Over Tulsa is free for all ages.
As the afternoon wraps up, attendees will move into the hangar, officially kicking off the 12th annual Big Band Hangar Dance. A buffet dinner, prepared by Catering Connection, will run from 5 to 6 p.m. Following dinner, the festivities begin, including free swing dance lessons between 6 and 7 p.m. provided by Tulsa Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS).
At 7 p.m. the JROTC color guard will lead a salute to veterans, after which the 18-piece Sounds of Music Orchestra will take the stage and fill the hangar with 1940s-era music throughout the evening. The evening will be a perfect opportunity to dust off your dancing shoes – or try out some of the new moves taught by TOSS. The Big Band Hangar Dance has become a favorite amongst swing dancers, with several troupes attending every year from around the country. “We’ve been told by swing dancers that our dance is one of their favorites,” says Bob Prater.
Recommended attire is casual, military or vintage. No matter how you dress, come prepared for an evening full of fun, music and history. With a powerful 18-piece orchestra and vintage aircraft and vehicles providing the backdrop for the evening, this event promises a night full of memories. 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 the public.
For more information, contact
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.
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