Young and old shared the stage at the March meeting of Cascade Warbirds at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Each year the organization of historic military aviation enthusiasts awards flight training scholarships to young people interested in aviation careers. Alex Jonson of Issaquah, one of the recipients from 2015, gave a brief presentation of his accomplishments and was presented with a check for $1,000 to further his aviation endeavors. This year’s recipients were Ryan Check, Woodinville; Pavel Hoffelner, Seattle; Antonio Martorano, Seattle; Austin Mix, Black Diamond; Blake Nelson, Tacoma; and Jake Peterson, Puyallup.
Five WWII veterans who flew Boeing B-17 bombers were present to autograph a series of lithographs of illustrations of B-17s in action that were produced for the 50th anniversary of the famous Flying Fortress. When ten signatures, representing the ten crew members of a B-17, are accomplished, the artwork will be matted, framed and auctioned to support the Cascade Warbirds scholarship fund.
The five amazing veterans, all in their nineties, who added their names to the prints were Elden Larsen, pilot, of Bellevue; Dick Nelms, pilot, of Mercer Island; Emery Blanchette, ball gunner, of Renton; Fred Parker, all position gunner, from Olympia; and Art Unruh, tail gunner, from Arlington.
The speaker for the monthly event was Art Unruh who brought a great many items from his service in Foggia, Italy in the 15th Army Air Force. Unruh was a fortunate survivor of 50 missions and among the objects he shared were pieces of shrapnel from a German 88mm cannon which actually struck him, and ammunition in several sizes from 50 cal to 88mm. Unruh has been a docent at the Flying Heritage Collection and often speaks to area high school students about the time in our history when the nation pulled together for a common cause and earned for themselves the title of the Greatest Generation.
Cascade Warbirds is Squadron #2 of EAA Warbirds of America and is a non-profit organization of local aviation enthusiasts, many of whom are pilot-owners of historic military aircraft. With over 250 members and the largest squadron in Warbirds of America, Cascade Warbirds is centered in the Puget Sound area. It meets at the Museum of Flight in Seattle from October until flying weather returns in April. Its mission is to promote and encourage the flying preservation and display of Warbird aircraft (Keep ‘em Flying), to honor veterans, and to engage in aviation education. Find more about them on the web at http://www.cascadewarbirds.org.