WASP Homecoming and Warbird Fly-In Inspires Next Generation of Aviators
The National WASP WWII Museum in Sweetwater, Texas, said in a news release that more than 1,000 people showed up to Avenger Field on May 8 to celebrate the WASP Homecoming 2021 and the BT-13 & Warbird Fly-In. More than 200 children learned about the Fly Girls and the warbirds they flew in the fly-in’s “kid’s zone” throughout the day. More than 50 kids ages 8 to 17 were given the thrill of a lifetime by “co-piloting” their very own airplane rides. “One of the primary purposes of the fly-in was to get kids of all ages to see these amazing aircraft live and up close, hear the inspiring stories of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, and to learn more about American military aviation history,” said the release.
The fly-in also tied an earlier record when 11 Vultee BT-13s arrived. That meant nearly half of all operable and airworthy BTs in the US were sitting at Avenger Field at the same time. Brian Laing, aircraft organizer for the fly-in, said, “The last time there were this many BTs in one place was in 1995 at the Wright Patterson Museum... before that, it was World War II.”
Aviators from all across the US arrived in more than two dozen other warbirds, including P-51 Mustangs, Stearman BT-17s, Stearman Model 75s, Fairchild PT-19s, North American T-6 Texans, and a couple of more current USAF aircraft, the T-6B Texan II and a T-1 Jayhawk.
Among the pilots in attendance at the historic fly-in were Southwest Airlines Captain Tammie Jo Schults and her pilot trainees, seven Air Force pilots (including Colonel Carey “Mamba” Jones), four Navy pilots (including LT Holly Pace), and many other amateur and professional pilots.