Corsairs Over Connecticut Part 2 – The Pilots Symposium

by John “Spoons” Sponauer

 

World War II Veterans.
The panel gathered for the Corsair pilot’s symposium. From left to right, moderator Jerry O’Neill, and Corsair pilots Frank Clark, Archie Donahue, Jim Hill, Tom Emrich, Bob McClurg, Henry Bourgeois, Bill Hereford, Bernard “Pete” Peterson, Jack Cook, Tommy Thompson, and Hugh Irwin.

With the World War II generation leaving us at a rate of more than 1,000 a day, there’s never been a better time than today to meet the men and women who flew, fought, or supported the war effort so long ago. When the opportunity presents itself to meet and speak with these aging warriors, it’s my belief that it’s nearly a responsibility to do so. When the opportunity presents itself to meet and speak with nearly a dozen of them at a time, it’s my belief that it’s nearly criminal not to!

Corsairs Over ConnecticutTo kick off the three-day “Corsairs Over Connecticut” show (June 3-5 in Bridgeport, CT), event organizers planned a once-in-a-lifetime event; a symposium of Corsair pilots, including some of the most well-known squadrons and aces, set right in the shadow of the factory that turned out thousands of Corsair variants during the war. I had the honor and the privilege of attending.

What had been advertised were presentations by eight Corsair pilots, however by the time the program began, the dais boasted nearly a dozen. Seated in one of the airport’s hangars, with camouflage netting and an enormous American flag as a backdrop for the pilots, the more than 250 people in attendance were in for a real treat.

Setting the mood for the evening, two of the five Corsairs which would spend the weekend entertaining the crowds were parked outside the open hangar doors. Under an increasingly dreary sky were FG-1D Corsair “Skyboss,” (BuNo: 67089) from the American Airpower Heritage Museum in Farmingdale, NY, and the Connecticut-built F4U-4 (BuNo: 97388) of the Tri-State Warbird Collection in Wahpeton, ND.

As I walked into the hangar to find a seat, I couldn’t help but notice a few vets running their hands over the wings and fuselage of these gorgeous warbirds. One of them, who I later learned was Corsair pilot Bill Hereford, would speak later that evening, but for now he was telling his own family and a crowd of visitors about his wartime exploits. Answering one question, Hereford described strafing runs in the Corsair and the feeling of racing only 25 feet off the deck after targets.

As the program began, moderator Jerry O’Neill, who helped organize the entire three-day event, introduced the panel.

Photo Credit:  Hugh "Yogi" IrwinThe Tailless Landing

Hugh “Yogi” Irwin of VMF-251 was the first to speak, and told his story of a near-disastrous landing after flying close air support for the Americal Division in the Philippines.

“Most of our missions were close air support. On this particular mission, I was in touch with the forward air controller, and made my run in with my wingman. On the first pass, we each dropped one bomb. On our second pass, my wingman dropped his, but I couldn’t get mine off. I tried the manual release, and that was no luck either.”

As Yogi brought the Corsair in for a landing at his base, the bomb came loose when his gear touched, bounced off the runway into the tail of the Corsair, and exploded, nearly cutting his airplane in two. The photo at right shows the dramatic remains of Irwin’s Corsair.

Go To Page 2


EMI-30-0-60AAC Overhauled Ammeter FAA FORM 8130-3 picture

EMI-30-0-60AAC Overhauled Ammeter FAA FORM 8130-3

$190.00



EMI30-0-33VDC Overhauled D.C. Ammeter FAA FORM 8130-3 picture

EMI30-0-33VDC Overhauled D.C. Ammeter FAA FORM 8130-3

$190.00



Hawker Aircraft Ammeter S546-3-50 Weston Instruments Enfield Middlesex England picture

Hawker Aircraft Ammeter S546-3-50 Weston Instruments Enfield Middlesex England

$150.00



Stewart Warner 813489 Shunt, Ammeter, 60 Amp, Each picture

Stewart Warner 813489 Shunt, Ammeter, 60 Amp, Each

$45.00



GENERAL ELECTRIC 8AW43AAA225 AMMETER *AR* AMPS AC GAUGE picture

GENERAL ELECTRIC 8AW43AAA225 AMMETER *AR* AMPS AC GAUGE

$147.50



Universal Ammeter 9019 picture

Universal Ammeter 9019

$18.56



Westberg Westach 60A Amps Indicator Ammeter P/N 2A6-2 picture

Westberg Westach 60A Amps Indicator Ammeter P/N 2A6-2

$43.80



WESTINGHOUSE AMMETER (0-300 AMPS) TYPE E-1 picture

WESTINGHOUSE AMMETER (0-300 AMPS) TYPE E-1

$18.52



Bell 206L3 Helicopter Ammeter 023-13000-09 picture

Bell 206L3 Helicopter Ammeter 023-13000-09

$75.00



Aircraft Ammeter S546-3-50 Weston picture

Aircraft Ammeter S546-3-50 Weston

$150.00



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes