Monday, January 26, 2009
Non-profit donation--February 2009.
Growing up, there was nothing that I loved more than hearing my grandpa (Joe Dawson)tell stories of his experiences during WW2. The stories of camaraderie and adventure and, unfortunately, the stories of death and destruction. The military shaped my grandpa--he was stubborn and scary, disciplined and a hard-worker as well as one of the smartest men I knew. Above all, my closest friend and my hero.
Before I hit my teens (and found bmx), I was set in following in his footsteps into the air force. But by mid teens my politics had changed pretty drastically, I leaned much more towards pacifism (though I do believe we need a military), and found myself more interested in learning about history and literature (hence my absolute love of telling as well as hearing a good story).
Most of my Grandpa Joe's stories were based around his flying in B-17's--The US's predominant bomber in the early phases of the war. I'm aghast at how this lofty airplane did what it did--brought my grandpa home safely after so many missions with the odds of return so highly stacked against him.
A few months ago, I got wind of a travelling air exhibit which featured a B-17: The "Nine-o-Nine." One of only 13 left in flight, I had to check it out. But then I read the fine print: "Go up in the Nine-o-Nine for a tax deductible donation." Back in November a date was set for the 17 to be displayed at St. Pete International. I immediately made the phone call, and reserved a seat with both my brother Jeff and my Boss, Jim Alley as flying buddies.
By 9:30am on Sunday, January 25th, the three of us were a couple thousand feet above Tampa, cruising at about 180mph. I can't even express to you how amazing this was!
My brother, Jeff Coplon. Pre-flight.
Me, like a kid in a candy store.
Pilot dudes--oh, how I envy these mustachioed men.
These Pratt and Whitney engines were so loud I had to put in ear plugs. There is no other engine on earth that sounds this amazing: ground shaking--It gives me the chills just thinking about it.
The nose-cone. 180 degrees of plexi-glass. Imagine sitting in this capsule while travelling 180mph thousands of feet over the city.
At about 1pm this afternoon, I was boxing some product up at work, and outside I heard the unmistakable sound of those four Pratt and Whitney engines flying above. I ran outside, and sure enough, the "Nine-O-Nine" was flying right over the building heading for its next stop in Naples, Florida. I'll admit, I got kind of emotional...it was as if the old rattle trap was saying goodbye.
In Loving memory of Joe Dawson...
at 8:43 PM