Ken Johnson of Newtown shares some memories from his gunner training days as he prepares to board the historical World War II B-17 aircraft in Hartford Monday.
If you have heard a lot of commotion in the air today (Monday) and wondered what that marvelous old machine was up there, enjoy. It’s a little piece, well actually a big piece of World War II history.
The Boeing B-17 “Memphis Belle” is in Hartford the first time courtesy of The Liberty Foundation’s 2013 ‘Salute to Veterans’ tour. And what an aircraft she is.
Media were taken for a ride Monday afternoon and it was a hands-on history lesson for all of us in a lot of different ways.
Among those on the ride was World War II Air 3rd Air Force veteran Ken Johnson of Newtown, who, as an 18-year-old trained in Tampa to be a tail gunner on such a plane.
“It brings back a lot of memories and makes me wonder what ever happened to so many of the men I trained with,” said Johnson, who is 87 years old.
The aircraft is from a private collection and has been restored to look like the original ”Memphis Belle.” That celebrated plane is being restored for museum display. This year marks the 70th anniversary of its historic last mission.
The aircraft here in Hartford was the one used in the 1990 movie “Memphis Belle.”
Anxious to preserve history, the non-profit foundation travels around the country offering paid rides and free on the ground tours of the aircraft.
In Hartford, both rides and the ground tours will be offered on August 17 and 18 at Brainard Airport.
On a personal note, I have a new respect for the men who manned those planes. A history book does not do justice to explaining the risk they took when they climbed in and manned their posts on each mission or the physical appearance of the tight quarters with its power and dorsal turrets and tail gunners compartment.
A ‘heads up’ to parents and students who anticipate studying about World War II in history classes this school year. There is nothing more intriguing or engaging in a report or oral presentation than being able to describe first hand what something looks like. It beats any Google search, YouTube video or history book chapter. There will also be World War II veterans on hand both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take advantage of the experience, an ultimate history lesson. I promise you will be impressed and have a new appreciation for the airmen who risked their lives for our country and come away with facts you never knew.
For more pictures go here.
For some of that kind of action, head to the casinos.
Celebs including “Goose” Gossage, Marcus Allen, Cuba Gooding and David Justice are among more than 30 sports and entertainment stars who will be partying and golfing this weekend in the Ahmad Rashad Celebrity Golf Classic at Mohegan Sun. The weekend includes a pairing party Thursday, a 70s-themed charity concert on Friday and golf on Sunday.
Proceeds from the classic and the REACH Foundation’s Charity Concert will benefit the Y Achievers and Y Teen Incentive Programs (Y-TIP) at the Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth & Family Center in Hartford.
The tournament also marks the grand reopening of the Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug. For more information go to mohegansun.com
On Friday, Foxwoods Resort will host “Taste of the World,” a dine-around billed as a global world experience. Foods from countries including France, China, Brazil, and the United Kingdom will be featured. For ticket information go to foxwoods.com
Also tempt your taste buds Saturday and Sunday at the CT Wine Fest at the Goshen Fairground. The festival features wine tastings, local specialty food samplings and live entertainment. Tickets are $30 the day of the event. Designated drivers tickets are $10. The festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Information: ctwine.com
Got green? Get your Irish on at the 28th annual Irish Music Festival at the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury. The event runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday and includes international Irish bands, food, a children’s area and the St. Patrick’s Pipe Band. The festival is open Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 2 p.m. to midnight and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. Admission is $10, $9 for seniors and free for children 9 and younger. Information: 860-633-9691 or irishmusicfest.com
And what’s summer without ice cream. Today from 5 to 7 p.m. head over to the Mark Twain House & Museum where free ice cream from Shady Glen, UConn Dairy Bar and Royal Ice Cream will be yours for the scooping at its annual Ice Cream Social on the Twain grounds. There will also be discounted tours, a lantern-making workshop with Hartford artist Anne Cubberly, and entertainment. Information: marktwainhouse.org
Let you weekend seep a bit into next week as well.
Look up in the sky Monday for a vintage thrill and a look at history.
The non-profit Liberty Foundation is bringing its restored Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, used in the movie ”Memphis Belle” and a newly restored Curtis P-40E to Brainard Airport as part of its “Salute to Veterans” national tour.
The vintage WWII aircraft will be flying over the city that day as a preview to a public program on Aug. 4 and 5 when the public can book a flight as well as tour the planes. The tour is designed to provide a national ”hands on” history lesson and bring awareness to the efforts of veterans. Information: libertyfoundation.org
And finally, treat yourself with a night out of dining. Taste of Hartford continues through Aug. 5. Take advantage of the $20.12 fixed price special menus at dozens of city restaurants and enjoy.