Friday, September 28, 2007

C-47 "Gooneybird" Restoration

I like airplanes. That may be because I have relatives who flew or worked on airplanes during their lives. To that end, the Strategic Air and Space Museum (which used to the the Strategic Air Command museum) in Omaha finally finished restoring a C-47, a transport that was used to carry Airborne troops into France during D-Day and cargo hauls. They would fly these planes with cargo over the Himalayas...that must have been wild. What this particular plane originally looked like is seen here:

The Museum has several (two large hangers) of airplanes from military service that they that kept up or restored outright. Its a really cool museum because they let tourists walk around the hangars and simply look at and touch the various planes, which range from a B-17 Bomber to a U-2 spy plane.

When I first moved to Lincoln about 5 years ago (has it been that long?), they were working to restore this C-47. The museum use volunteers to restore the planes and let interested tourists watch (and occasionally help) them work. A couple of Saturdays I was up at the museum helping do various things on this C-47 (namely scrubbing the fuselage to remove the silver paint) because my grandfather flew a C-47 in Korea and was shot down while piloting the one. He survived, but died when I was about 6 or so. A shot of the plane during restoration:

I guess I have been a little nostalgic this week since the Ken Burns "The War" mini-series has been airing. If you have missed it, it really is one of Burns' best documentaries since the Baseball series. While I was in seminary, the museum completed the restoration work and put the C-47 on display. I finally got to see the finished product this summer (more than once). The picture seen here is the finished product:
I feel close to my grandfather when I am near this type of plane. I guess because it was a large part of him. The C-47 was called the Gooneybird by the British because it was somewhat odd looking. The black and white stripes on the plane were the "invasion stripes" that Eisenhower had painted on all allied aircraft before D-Day so that allied planes could be recognized in combat and not fired on by friendlies. Of course, the plan got leaked to the Nazis who painted most of their aircraft with the stripes too.
I post this in memory of all the boys who flew C-47s. Here's to ya, fellers...

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