Spirit of Freedom

Dedicated to Preserving the Memory and Legacy of the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949

Until the early 21st Century the Berlin Airlift meant little more than a historical event spanning 1948 and 1949, when I was about eleven years of age. The significance of this was brought to my attention during an Air Force reunion at Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico. One of the last remaining aircraft that participated, C-54E, tail number 44-9144, aka Spirit of Freedom flew from New Jersey to partake in our celebration.

Many significant things occurred during that celebration, but the one event that remains most prominent for me was when one engine developed a problem – two jugs (cylinders) blew out. Reciprocal engines were fading into the background, had been for a decade., complicating any chance of repair without calling someone from the mainland. However, two aging aircraft maintaineers, reciprocal mechanics, were among the reunion attendees.

These mechanics had served at Ramey during the ’50s and ’60s during the pesence of the 50th Bomb Wing – B-36 bombers (six reciprocal engines and four jets).

The US Coast Guard, who now occupies the Ramey AFB hangars, scared up the necessary of parts and tools for the engine repairs. And the Spririt of Freedom was only a day late in beginning its journey back to New Jersey.

Below are two photos that reflect the significance of the Berlin Air Lift.

One of the most positive stories I’ve ever heard, or seen, is in the following video – Tom Brokaw with Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber:

thttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWbISrde2mQ

Many of the details featured in this blog were gleaned from from the website: <Spirit of Freedom, the plane>

Details for t

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The Berlin Wall

A Chunk of It

A wall, to me, symbolizes fear, heartache and misfortune. It’s an ugly blemish on we humans.

It may have been 1996 that my friend, a lumber salesman for Bohemia Lumber Company, returned from Germany where he was selling American Lumber. While he was there the Berlin Wall was designated to come down. Berliners had been waiting for a decades, and they and set in on it with sledge hammers, jackhammers, and bulldozers. Excitement ran high over the entire planet. Word of the activity quickly reached the hotel where my friend was staying. He detoured to Berlin. Unprepared for such a moment in time, he had no tools, so he gathered fragments he could fit into his pockets.

He called me after arriving home. He had something to show me. I met him at a cafe on the north end of Eugene, Oregon where he spread the pieces of the Berlin Wall over our table. It was history and we were both excited to be alive and witnessing such an event.

“Would you like a piece of the Berlin Wall?” he asked.

“You bet your life,” I said, and I could not believe he considered me worthy of sharing. It was like a moon rock. This would be my only opportunity to have a piece of the Berlin Wall, the theme of Checkpoint Charlie and so many dark memories, memories that gave me pause throughout much of my lifetime.

Toby

Toby is a crop duster. Skimming over fields applying chemicals that farmers require is an everyday event for him. Fact is, many farmers object to paying his asking price if they don’t see signs of their crop lodged in his landing gear.

His reputation precedes him. He has no problem qualifying for the annual air race scheduled to occur on the second day of the week-long Ashley County Fair. Because the country has no airport, fair commissioners have chosen the city water tower as one turning point and Alex Jacobs’s silo as the other.

The morning of the race Toby gives his World War Two trainer, a Stearman bi-plane a thorough inspection. Then he tops off the fuel in his yellow beast and heads for the fairgrounds, arriving an hour early to allow time for check-in and final instructions.

And then they are off. Toby, a World War One fighter pilot has logged many combat hours in fragile Jenny aircraft, chalking fifteen kills. Competing with these farm boy wannabes is no contest, so after he is certain of his win he decides to flaunt his flying skills

Having the sky to himself, he begins a series of loops. Near the top of his second loop the engine stalls. Forward motion slows and then stops. Toby’s in trouble as his Stearman falls over backwards and begins an uncontrolled downward spiral. Most pilots try everything they know to regain control. Often, these efforts are fatal mistakes that take them into the ground. Given enough altitude, these old bi-planes will usually recover on its own – if he has enough altitude at the outset and the pilot can keep his cool.

Toby, having survived several close calls during combat situations has learned, in spite of his gut feeling, to set the stick free and keep his feet off the pedals. Prepared or not, he’s facing another challenge today.

There is no engine noise to drown out the wind screaming through the wires and he’s growing more tense by the second as he recognizes some of the upturned faces. Still, he grips the seat cushion rather than the stick, and waits while the grassy meadow rushes at him. Was I high enough? He isn’t sure and he’s uttering a silent prayer when the wires change their tone. A  dozen laws of physics come into play the old Stearman morphes itself into a manageable aircraft. Grabbing the stick, he eases it toward the cushion. He’s very close to the ground – too close – but a miss is as good as a mile. Lining up with the water tower, Toby brings his yellow beast in on a final approach and then makes a perfect dead-stick landing. Climbing out on the wing, he swings down to the ground and waves to the spectators. These cheering fools think this is all part of a hair-raising stunt. Only Toby is aware of the pounding in his chest.

More On Scooters

Someone claiming to be in the know stated that the electric scooter industry could not sustain itself. Not so long after that statement was made Ford Motor Company said the era of private automobile ownership is coming to a close. And then they bought an active scooter company. Last week a German automaker bought a scooter company.

Sustainable or not, something is in the wind.

Electric Scooters

Why is there so much resistance to electric scooters.  Are the city fathers abusing their power because they are fearful of losing their seat on the gravy train?

How many scooters can occupy a single parking garage? How many scooters will it take to create a gridlock in Dallas?

Trump is the only person I can think of who can turn a profitable situation into a disaster.

Pencil

A number of years ago, during my Commodore 64 days, I came across a dandy suggestion published in the Blue Heron Newsletter. With a ready-made alternative in hand, I was ready to dump my C-64 and join the ranks of  the “Yellow Pencil Society”. But first I needed to know more about this author and how I might join his revolution. Research was a bit more difficult in those pre-Internet days, but I eventually learned it was a sales pitch.

This fellow’s uncle owned a pencil factory.