Commemorative Air Force Events at West Houston Airport
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Houston Air Show
The Commemorative Air Force once a year produces an air show which features WWII aircraft.
It is easy for us to look skyward and see them as well as hear them flying over our home in west Houston. My dad would surely have loved to see this if he were still among the living.
One year we decided to go and see these World War 2 airplanes on the ground as well as viewing them flying over our house. Both my husband and I really enjoyed the up close looks at these warbirds.
Pilots were taking turns in taking these old planes to the air.
For a fee ranging from $195 to $450 interested people could actually take rides in them.
We opted to keep our feet on terra firma the day of our visit and just look at the airplanes, take pictures, talk to people involved in flying them. We also visited the World War II museum on the grounds of the West Houston Airport. It was a most enjoyable day!
During World War 2 many young men felt the call to duty and my Dad was one of them.
He actually wanted to be a pilot and was in the middle of training when the entire school he was attending was cancelled. Apparently at the time, the thinking was that the U.S. already had enough military pilots so this was an obvious way to trim expenses as pilot training is no doubt an expensive undertaking.
My Dad always joked for the rest of his life that if he could not fly the planes, he could at least ride in them one way. He became a paratrooper! My father became a part of the 101st airborne division and saw action in Europe during World War 2.
World War II Airplane
The military plane that really caught my eye and my interest in particular (because of my Dad) was the one with the “Goodtime Gal” painted on the nose of the plane.
Other airplanes at this commemorative air force airshow also had paintings known as nose art. Airplanes were often painted with nose art that reminded the young fighting men of home, family, patriotism or even the enemy. It could be sexy young ladies such as this “Goodtime Gal” painted on this paratrooper plane or nose art consisting of favorite cartoon characters as an example.
It was the fact of this particular airplane…a Lockheed C-60A plane that was used during the same time frame as when my Dad would have been flying in them prior to jumping out, that caught my attention. Visitors that day could actually climb into the airplane and even sit in the pilots seat if so desired.
One could really get a sense of what it would have been like sitting on those hard metal seats next to buddies while being transported to ultimately jump out of the airplane and fight in the war.
There were no round trips for those trained paratroopers! It was a one way trip to destiny!
If my Dad were alive today, he would have loved chatting with some of the pilots at this airshow. Even after the war my Dad was always interested in airplanes. Had time and finances permitted he would have loved getting a private pilot’s license, but that never did happen. There were always other obligations that took precedence.
His dad had flown as part of the crew in those World War 1 airplanes.
If ever my Dad heard a certain engine sound coming from a plane in flight, he always looked skyward.
Long will I remember sitting at the supper table one evening in Wisconsin surrounded by our family of five. My mother had just put a beef roast on the table with all of the trimmings and we were just beginning to eat.
Lo and behold, an engine sound from above had my Dad excited and he hurriedly left the table and encouraged us to follow him outside where we did see some type of old airplane. I think it was an old bi-plane if my child memory is correct. Naturally our chairs were hurriedly pulled out and when we returned to the dinner table, much to everyone’s dismay, our cocker spaniel dog named Rusty had just about finished eating the entire beef roast!
I no longer remember what could be saved (if anything) from that meal but I certainly remember the “oh no!” exclamations and “bad boy!” utterances towards Rusty. He undoubtedly had quite a bellyache from gulping down an entire beef roast!
No doubt my mother had counted on leftovers for sandwiches and perhaps even to make some of her delicious roast beef hash out of it. The next time an airplane of interest flew overhead, we always made sure that there was no easy access to food on the table for my parent’s pets! Ha!
West Houston Airshow
Obviously there were many more airplanes and commemorative air force personnel as well as civil air corps people there to not only fly the airplanes, talk to visitors, direct traffic and generally educate interested parties about these old aircraft from the World War 2 era on the days of the airshow.
Many of these people are volunteers who simply love old airplanes and like the idea of being able to keep some of them serviced and still air worthy. We have a neighbor who is involved in doing just that!
To the right and below is the Curtis SB2C Helldiver.
It was a dive bomber that was typically flown from aircraft carriers. The folding wings would have made parking on aircraft carriers more expedient. It was interesting seeing that plane unfold its wings for flight and upon landing gradually raise them up to their folded position once again.
B-17 Flying Fortress
This was the United States high flying long range bomber that inflicted more bomb damage to enemy targets during World War 2 than any other airplane.
It was used against German military and industrial targets and also against some of the Japanese airfields and shipping lanes in the Pacific. It was so well constructed and well armed that it (almost) seemed impervious to fatal damage. The B-17 is a huge air machine when seen up close and was the largest at the time when it was built.
These World War 2 planes affiliated with the Commemorative Air Force are flown in different air shows around the country on various occasions.
The first such air show that I ever remember seeing was in Harlingen, Texas when I was still a teenager after my parents and grandparents had moved to Texas from Wisconsin.
Nicknamed the “Grasshopper” this lightweight airplane was used in World War II in both the European theaters and also the Pacific theater of war.
The “Grasshopper” was successfully utilized in spotting troop positions and also for reporting artillery formations to Allied forces who could then address the situation appropriately.
Below are some photos of some of the other aircraft seen during the airshow at the West Houston Airport the year we attended.
This aircraft post-dated World War II but was included in this airshow. It was a trainer for pilots of the United States Navy and also the Marine Corps and saw action in both Vietnam and Laos.
Hopefully this gave you a look at what a day spent looking at WW2 aircraft flown and operated by the Commemorative Air Force would be like. The West Houston Airport hosts this show at least once yearly and is home base for several of these old airplanes.
Paratroopers like my Dad who flew in planes like this and all military men and women everywhere should be lauded for their service to our country!
The dates for the Houston Wing Open House this year of 2016 are April 16th and 17th. It opens at 10am and the charge is $10 per car.
Be sure and check out the WWII Museum located there at the same time. You can easily make a full day of it if you wish. Vendors are on hand to sell food and other items as well.
The West Houston Airport (IWS) is located north of Interstate 10 off of Groeschke Road between Highway 6 and Barker Cypress Road, Houston, Texas 77084.