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Have you ever met any WW2 and WW1 pilots in person?


Enceladus
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Have you ever met a WW2 and WW1 pilot in person?  

57 members have voted

  1. 1. WW2 pilot; can also be gunners, navigator, bombardier, (select any that apply, can be more than one)

    • Yes (a well known pilot. e.g. Douglas Bader, Gabby Gabreski, Vernon Woodward, Franz Stigler, etc.)
      8
    • Yes (a relative)
      14
    • Yes (a friend/family friend)
      9
    • Yes (a neighbour)
      5
    • Yes (at a Remembrance/Veterans Day ceremony)
      4
    • Yes (a teacher)
      2
    • Yes (other)
      10
    • No
      17
  2. 2. WW1 pilot

    • Yes
      1
    • No
      56


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Enceladus

As a continuation to a poll I started back in November 2018 in which I asked if anyone had a relative who was a pilot during WW1 and WW2, I now ask if anyone has met a WW2 pilot, and lucky enough to have met a WW1 pilot in person?

 

For me, I never met a WW1 pilot due to the fact that I was less than 5 when the last WW1 pilot died. But have met a few WW2 pilots: my grandmother's former neighbour flew the Halifax in WW2 and he told me and my grandmother a bit about what he did before he died ~ 10 years ago, but if I was the age I am now then, I would have been really intrigued to know more.

 

About 10 years ago I met one of my grandparent's old friends, and one of my dad's teachers, who flew the Lancaster. I don't think I was told the last part until after he left. Despite me wanting to see him again in the years that followed, that would be the first and only time that I would see him as he died a few months ago at the age of 97.

 

If I have met any other WW2 pilots then I wasn't aware of it.

 

Some side notes:

The father of a man I used to work with is currently 98 and was the navigator on the Lancaster. I've seen pictures and videos of him and would want to meet him, but due to COVID that probably won't happen.

 

And yes, I did see on the news James "Stocky" Edwards turning 100 and the parade in Comox, B.C. I have some relatives who live in Comox and if it weren't for COVID they would probably have gone.

 

OT here, I have met this man. He came to the Remembrance Day ceremony at school in 2017 and told his story. His experience on the HMCS Skeena at D-Day and when it ran aground were quite intriguing. Forged in fire: D-Day remembered by 99-year-old navy commander – Victoria News (vicnews.com)

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FodderMonkey

I worked with a B-25 pilot. He flew at Guadalcanal, and mentioned the rain was so bad they had to crab their landings, coming in flipped onto their left side. This kept the rain off the pilot’s side window so he could open it and look out to see the runway. He had to time it just right so at the last second he could wrench the plane level and kick the tail over to stick the landing, but he was completely blind while he did it!  All that in a B-25!!

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Rodwonder

Met two of the Tuskegee Airmen back in the early 2000's at an airshow in Millville NJ... Classy guys, shame the conversation was short because they were selling a book and they were quite busy. Told my kids, that they had met some real heroes!  

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I chatted to a friends grandfather at a wedding, he was a navigator on a Lancaster during WW2. He finished his tour completing several missions over Berlin. For a guy in his 90's he was very mentally agile and talked about bomb load, fuel load, range, flak and night-fighters. He told me that one time he went to take a "star shot" for navigation and returned to find a piece of shrapnel had gone through his navigations seat!

 

He always wore a Lancaster badge proudly on his tie.

 

Sadly, his family were a bit bored of his war stories and were tired of hearing them, I was honored to even talk to him.

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Cybermat47

Once met a Spitfire pilot who’d been shot down over Italy while flying with No. 43 SQN RAF. He was liberated from a POW camp by the Soviets and moved to Australia, where he flew Caribous during the Vietnam War. I spent a few minutes appreciating the Spitfire and Seafire with him when he visited my AAFC squadron when I was younger (must have been 2016 or 2017?).

 

I’ve also met some Bomber Command veterans at air shows, remembrance ceremonies, and cadet parades.

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Eisenfaustus

My grandfather flew Ju-87 G‘s on the eastern front before being transferred to a Lw Field Division in the West. This transfer propably saved his life. 
 

Unfortunately when I was old enough to ask questions, he wasn’t clear enough to answer anymore. Alzheimer sucks. 

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HBPencil

I voted for 'Yes (a relative)', there were two on my mother's side of the family.
One was her uncle who was a Lancaster wireless op. Although he lived in the same town as my grandparents we didn't see much of him when we visited as he could be something of an 'odd fish', the one time I remember visiting his home my parents made damn sure that my sister and I knew not to make any loud and sudden sounds as he could react badly, no doubt the poor dude was flak happy.
The other was my grandmother's cousin who flew P-40s and F4Us in the Solomons with the RNZAF, as well as a long post war career which included being part of the RNZAF contingent of the occupation force in Japan as well commanding a Venom squadron during the Malayan Emergency. I spoke to him twice that I remember; the first being by phone for a high school project (we went to the same school) while the second was in person when he was in town to spread his brother's ashes, maybe about a decade ago. We met him at the Auckland War Memorial Museum where he had organized a viewing of his mother's artwork which the museum holds as she was a landscape art student prior to WWI and painted much of the city and surrounding area, most of which now looks totally different of course. We did talk about aviation a bit (his father worked for Phillips and was responsible for the radio homing beacon used by Charles Kingsford Smith's trans-Tasman flight) however by the end of the meeting he was struggling with staying standing up due to a back injury from the war when he was shot down by AAA... when he bailed out the tailplane hit him in the back and then he spent 24+ hours in a small dingy before being rescued.

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CUJO_1970

Many of them, all Allied fighter pilots, or bomber pilots and air crew.

 

The most noteworthy would be Paul Tibbets, pilot of Enola Gay.

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RAAF492SQNOz_Steve

Chuck Yeagar but he was much more interested in flogging F16's at the time rather than talking about his many and varied exploits.

 

The most interesting person, who served in WW2, I came across was not actually a flyer. Spent several hours talking to a ex german solder who got out of Stalingrad in a nick of time. He had done one year of an engineering course, before the war, and that was  enough to get him transferred to a technical research unit where they were developing a new form of optical (Laser???) gunsight. The term he actually used was light beam but I interpreted it to be some form of laser.

Edited by RAAF492SQNOz_Steve
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AndyJWest
3 minutes ago, RAAF492SQNOz_Steve said:

The most interesting person, who served in WW2, I came across was not actually an flyer. Spent several hours talking to a ex german solder who got out of Stalingrad in a nick of time. He had done one year of an engineering course, before the war, and that was  enough to get him transferred to a technical research unit where they were developing a new form of optical (Laser???) gunsight. The term he actually used was light beam but I interpreted it to be some form of laser.

 

Unlikely to have been a laser, since the technology wasn't developed until the 1950s. The Germans did however do a fair bit of development with infra-red illuminated night-vision gunsights, e.g. the Zielgerät 1229.

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Gambit21

Not in person, but corresponded with and interviewed via telephone a dozen or so.

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AndyJWest

When I was a kid, the vicar of my local C of E church was a former WW2 bomber pilot.

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Docholiday

I had the Possibility to speak some words witg Walther Schuck, a german Fighter Ace ca 2001.

 

Further more one of my Patients was a german Bomber Pilotin WW2.

 

 

Cheers

 

Doc

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Ghost666
On 6/20/2021 at 5:15 PM, CUJO_1970 said:

The most noteworthy would be Paul Tibbets, pilot of Enola Gay.

  I met him also. He came to Whiteman AFB where the 509th Bomb Wing is based, they fly the B-2. (His grandson was a B-2 pilot then and later returned to base as the general in command of the Bomb Wing) I was stationed there in the late 90's. My wife worked at the NCO/Officer Club in charge of events and had to arrange the dinner for him. I was waiting for her in the bar and the General stopped and had a drink with her and me.

 

  Back in the 70's when I was in high school I was in the Civil Air Patrol. The cadet Squadron was doing crowd control at an air show. I was walking a rope line around the WWII aircraft when a little old man ducked under the rope and went right over to the F4U, climbed up on the wing and looked in the pit. I went right over there and told him to get down and get back on the other side of the rope. He just smiled at me. Now being a young and not to wise man I was just about to lose my temper. But just in the nick of time an Airshow official showed up and informed me Pappy Bowington was allowed in the planes.

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Avimimus

I met WW1 veterans - I can't recall any of them being pilots though. The aircrew I talked to were from WWII... I heard the same story from more than one different person (a tragic collision of two Lancasters due to a pilot apparently showing off - it seemed to have an impact on a lot of people as it was so unnecessary - I recall that part of it was the mid-upper was friends with several people who were part of other aircrews, so it hit even harder).

 

They were mainly Canadians. I did encounter one He-111 pilot who insisted that he flew only reconnaissance and mentioned surviving an attack by a P-51. He also mentioned the importance of doing a pre-flight walk around check. One aircrew he knew took off without removing the tabs which kept the control surfaces in place while the aircraft was parked - another unnecessary way to die which clearly stayed with him.

 

 

On 6/21/2021 at 1:02 PM, Gambit21 said:

Not in person, but corresponded with and interviewed via telephone a dozen or so.

 

Any interviews are becoming more and more valuable :) So, I'm glad you talked to people in an organised or semi-organised way.

Edited by Avimimus
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SCG_Tzigy

I have been very lucky to have had few patients that were aircrew in ww2. Only few left...not everyone wanted to talk about their ww2 times...  Now i wish i asked those willing for more of formal interview sessions...

Not many left i am afraid. If any come back for follow ups, i will try to do better..

Had a B-17 pilot w 2 tours..., F4F pilot that was still upset about his assignment during Marianas Turkey Shoot (was asigned flying cover over his flattop), B-17 ball turret gunner, B-26 pilot, also P-38 pilot from the 2nd Yamamoto flight. Other WW2 vets,  US submariner that lied about his age and enrolled at 17... Another 17 yo soldier, super nice German guy, crewed 88mm last few weeks of the war...  Sad story about the Wildcat pilot, i invited him to our house to give Il21946 a go...we were working on setting the time up.  Never happened, he passed suddenly next week, cerebral bleed....  Have so much respect for all of them. 

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VBF-12_Stick-95

Not all airmen but memorable all the same.  As a young kid there were about 20 WWI vets that would march in parades.

Had conversations with the following: an American and a German WWI vet.  The American was in the trenches.  The German was on the Eastern Front.

 

Also talked with a B-17 ETO pilot, PTO Navy Corsair pilot, an ETO B-17 aerial photographer, a B-17 gunner shot down over France,

an aid to Gen. Bradley in Normandy, a PTO Marine, an MTO Army vet, a PTO Army vet, a USAAF vet based at a B-17 field in England, a submariner in the PTO, an American on an ammunition supply ship in the harbor during the attack on Pearl Harbor.


I saw a group of maybe 25 Tuskegee Airmen but didn't speak to any and also about 5 in the WAFS in 2007, was also lucky enough to catch a D-Day veterans parade of maybe 40 in London in 2009, which I believe was the last time it was held. 
 

D-Day Veteran March

 

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I once worked with a former B-17 pilot, George Cracraft.  He flew 50 missions in the Mary Alice as its second pilot.  When shown the museum repaint of his plane, he said the paint job was nice but it didn't look like that.  By the time he was flying they had gone to the aluminum finish, and every time a panel needed to be replaced an aluminum panel was fitted, so that the aircraft was a patchwork of OD and aluminum.  He was a wonderful man and I miss him.  

 

I tried making a skin to match his description; he laughed and said it was still too clean.  

Mary_alice.jpg

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Soilworker

I never met a real veteran but my great uncle used to tell me (BS) stories when I was a kid about being an RAF pilot getting shot down over enemy lines, then getting captured and forced to test fly Messerschmitts. He went into such detail such as telling me about how the fuel gauge would to fog up so he couldn't tell how much fuel he had left that as an 11/12 year old I was totally convinced and was telling my class about it at school. 😂

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216th_Cat

I was part of a guard of honour for Robert Stanford Tuck, and other BoB veterans, at the premiere of the Battle of Britain film at our local cinema. Didn't get to speak with him but later worked at the same place as his grand-daughter and talked to her about him.

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Reggie_Mental
On 6/21/2021 at 2:18 AM, RAAF492SQNOz_Steve said:

Chuck Yeagar but he was much more interested in flogging F16's at the time rather than talking about his many and varied exploits.

 

The most interesting person, who served in WW2, I came across was not actually a flyer. Spent several hours talking to a ex german solder who got out of Stalingrad in a nick of time. He had done one year of an engineering course, before the war, and that was  enough to get him transferred to a technical research unit where they were developing a new form of optical (Laser???) gunsight. The term he actually used was light beam but I interpreted it to be some form of laser.

Probably infra-red. Germans did have some success in that area, even producing a rifle mountable sight called VAMPYR, an early Gen1 active IR image intensifier.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zielgerät_1229

 

Edit: beaten to it...

 

But there are stories out there suggesting the Germans did manage to produce a passive thermal imaging sight, but it's sensitivity was so poor the emaciated concentration camp prisoners they tried to view through it and snipe at barely registered. Allegedly they had to fatten them up first and run them around a bit to make them visible in the reticle before sniping them. 

 

Horrible bastards. We should never forget that.

Edited by Reggie_Mental
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twilson37

One of the times I met a WW2 pilot was on a bus to my hotel in Costa Rica. He was in the 9th AF over Northern Europe. He flew razorback P-47s and was shot down while attack a German Artillery position, he bailed out at such a low altitude he wasn't sure his chute would open  but it did and he managed to get back to American lines, however the troops held him at gunpoint until his identity could be verified when they contacted his squadron they told the officer in charge that he was dead assuming noone could bail out at that height, it took him a nervous few minutes to explain it was him.  Because he was shot down behind enemy lines he was rotated back stateside to a squadron full of men too privileged to fight in the war (the rich, movie actors, etc..), he said he was so disgusted that despite having a wife and child at home he requested a transfer to fight the Japanese, the war ended before he was shipped overseas.

 

I remember that one the most because it was completely unscripted, usually I meet airmen at Air Shows and such, this was just a man happy to tell his stories that like so many of his generation often get lost to history

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[DBS]Browning

My father worked for a former Spitfire pilot who flew from early 1944.
I was surprised that despite his memory being perfect, he did not know what model(s) of Spitfire he flew and was only aware that there were "Cannon Spitfires" and "Browning Spitfires".

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J5_Spyboy

My neighbour was a rear gunner in an RAF B17 that flew SOE/OSS type missions out of Thailand. He told me his passenger once was the Crown Prince of Thailand, I thought he was perhaps 'misremembering' but it was confirmed at his eulogy. He was a Poppy Day Fund raiser who would dress for the Remembrance Day Service in the RAF uniform he got issued when he enlisted in 1939.

I have forgotten the Squadron number.

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MaxTurn

My father flew light planes (observation and liaison) in North Africa.  I had a neighbor for many years who flew TBMs on the Shamrock Bay.  The retirement community near me has a guy who flew a tour as a B-17 pilots.  He told me he was trained on B-25s and got into trouble (partying I think) and ended up being sent to England to join a B-24 unit.  He was switched to B-17s and I think he told me he only flew one mission as a co-pilot.  My daughter in law's grandfather was a B-29 pilot but didn't go overseas.  He was the only one of the four who kept flying.  He worked at one of the big pilot training facilities set up after the Air Force became an independent service.  Many Army officers chose not to transfer to the Air Force.  But where I live there are a lot of ex military. 

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twilson37

Another encounter I met was not with a WW2 pilot. I was on at a bar in Kyoto when an older Japanese gentleman sat next to me.  He told me his grandparents had moved to Oregon in the early 20th century as there was a need for salmon fishermen in the area. While there they gave birth to four children, his mother and three brothers. As the children became older they had to choose where to educate their children: in Japan or the US, it was a tough choice as the children were likely to not be accepted as natives of either country, they reluctantly chose to go back to Japan before the start of World War 2.  His mother would be the only one of the children to survive the war. The youngest son would become a kamikaze pilot in spite of the fact that having been born in Oregon he was a US Citizen.

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