I Wish I Had Shot More Photos

I have not been writing over the past year. This was due to many reasons, including the death of my wife, teaching, house hunting and moving closer to my university, fixing up a new house, running the publishing business, and contemplating a new life. To say I have been busier than the proverbial one-legged sailor in an ass-kicking contest would be an understatement. I have been kept busy all the way into the night, falling asleep between 10 and 11 in the evening. Reveille always has and still comes naturally between 0515 and 0545 without the aid of the call over the 1MC or an alarm clock. The hard work and long days make for great sleeping.

July 2008—909 taxies in to shut down during visit to the Saint Augustine airport.

During this last year, there have been events both good and bad. In the aviation field, the latest horrific event was the loss of the Collings Foundation’s B-17G, “909.” This hit me hard because I have a soft spot in my heart for Flying Fortresses, particularly 909.

Before I married my wife in 2000, I had a lot more free time. I had no real obligations during that time, other than finishing grad school. I hung out at the airport, where the big B-17 went through its annual maintenance periods. I worked as a “gofer,” helping the A&Ps who were turning wrenches, fixing gripes, tweaking avionics, tuning the big Wright radials, and doing metalwork. I helped buck rivets in the starboard wing of the big bomber… Probably about 4000 or so. If you didn’t know, the airplane has a massive wing with a span of 103 feet 9 inches and a wing area of 1420 square feet.

What bothers me the most following an aircraft crash are the comments from many unqualified “armchair quarterbacks.” Many of these individuals making comments aren’t pilots, haven’t been in the business in years, are a bunch of “wannabes,” or perhaps only possess a private pilot certificate. In short, they don’t know squat about what they’re talking about.

Also, many of those making comments are heartless. The loss of the B-17 is one thing, but the loss of all the souls on board and the injuries others suffered is the most crucial aspect of any crash. The loss of an aircraft is one thing, the loss of lives quite another.

July 2008—The crew shutting down 909 next to the B-24 at the Saint Augustine airport.

Some of the comments made by the unqualified are nothing more than speculation. They do nothing to illuminate the cause of the crash or contribute to avoiding future events of a similar nature. Comments made by the Monday morning quarterbacks usually reflect only their ignorance. If they were smart, they would stop talking and exercise patience. Let the NTSB and the FAA do their jobs in gathering information and reporting back to all of us.

I really wish I had taken more photos of 909 when I had the chance.

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