Saturday, September 15, 2018

Friends, Music and Pizza

The weather here continues to be very crazy. We had several days with temps in the 90's and then on Friday the remnants of Hurricane Gordon arrived with expected rainfall of three to five inches. It fell nonstop until Monday afternoon with a total rainfall of almost ten inches. Many local streams were over their banks closing several area roads. We did not venture out all weekend. 
On the Sunday prior to the rain storm we went to the Washington Jazz Society Jazz Brunch at the President's Pub. This Sunday had a great trio led by drummer David Throckmorton who has played with several bands around the world.
David is another Washington High School alumni. While I had nothing to do with the music department, we sure are proud of the many great musicians that came out of the district.
Always at the top of our to do list when we are in WashPA is having John's wonderful wood fired pizza. He has mastered his back yard oven and invited the teachers' lunch bunch for pizza.
Look what John bought me, some Sweet-n-Hot Jag Off Sauce. It's a Burgh thing and I can't wait to try it.
Phil, Linda, Nanc and Ed waiting for the pizza.
Gail, Karen and Georgie.
Bill and Chuck with Phil in the background.
Ron, Donna and John. He does get to take a break.
Carmella and Joey.
Charlie and Ed.
Joy and Kim.
The lunch bunch looks very satisfied.
After the pizza John had another special treat, huge marshmallows done in the 700 degree oven.
They were a big hit with Becky........
.....and Gail. 
Also always high on our to do list is to visit our old neighbor, Dorothy. We always called her our second mom since she "tried" to keep us in line. She just turned 95 and is still going strong and is sharp as a tack.  
More music at Al' an Rubens with the Dan Baker Group. If you want great food and music check them out some time.
Georgie, Jim and Nanc after a great meal and an evening of great music.
Evidence that the recent rain caused many problems. They needed to reinforce the bank here at Pine Cove where it washed out last week.

Tomorrow we are flying to New Orleans for the Betty's RV Park 20th anniversary cruise. We are looking forward to a fun time while hoping we avoid all the tropical storms in the Caribbean.  Here's to calm seas and blue skies! 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Friends, Family and a Birthday Celebration

We are here in WashPA for a month longer than normal and it still seems like we are having a hard time getting everything done. 
As I said in an earlier post the weather has been crazy, but without heavy rain or overly hot temperatures. As you can see, we had a very heavy rain day that turned the Interstate construction zone into a stream. Fortunately, it passed quickly so there was little local flooding. There was also a big change in temperatures this week with a string of days with 90+ degrees. The first few days of September are the hottest on record for Pittsburgh. 
One of the things we miss the most about being on the road is getting together with our old euchre club. Mike and Sherri had everyone over for an evening of food, fun and cards. The nice thing is we are all retired so we played on a Tuesday. Here are Di, Nanc, Mike and Sherri. 
This was the first time we played since Tom passed away so although we had a nice evening, it was a sad one as well. Here are Mary Lou, Jim, Georgie and Tim. I'm not happy to report that Mike and I finished in the last two places, well out of the money.
While the ladies got together on Thursday, Mike and I went to lunch at Shorty's for great hot dogs before heading to Cross Creek Lake for some fishing. The fishing was so slow Mike had a chance to make friends with this butterfly.
He did catch a couple bass and this very big bluegill. Nice catch.
On another evening we got together with Darren and Heather.  Nanc and Heather worked together at Crown Castle. We had a great time catching up. 
We did a day trip to Carlisle to celebrate Denise's dad Charlie's 80th birthday. He is a big race fan and used to have a race car, so the cake theme was right on.
Denise, Charlie and Rick are ready to celebrate.
Samantha and Pedro also went with us for the party.
Everyone had a party hat for the party. We all agreed that Charlie looked like rock legend Elton John with his birthday hat and glasses.
Many family and friends joined in to make it a great day for Charlie. A fun time was had by all.
Charlie and his seven surviving siblings.
They came from a family of fourteen. When the movie Cheaper by the Dozen came out in 1950, the whole family got to go to the movie in a couple limos. Very neat! We had a great time celebrating Charlie's 80th and seeing some of his family we had not seen in a while.

When I started writing this post the weather was very hot and there had been a couple heavy rains. Wow, how it has changed! This weekend's forecast is for highs in the 60's with lows in the 50's. Even worse, the remnants of Hurricane Gordon are expected to drop 3 to 5 inches of rain over a couple days, so flash flood warnings are in the forecast.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Wings of Freedom Tour

We checked out the vintage aircraft brought to the Washington Airport by The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour. The tour included four WWII aircraft that offer rides and in one case the chance to fly a vintage plane. 
We were having our morning coffee when we heard the distinctive sound of a B-17 flying over. We decided we wanted to get an up close look at these beautifully restored planes so Nanc and I went on Wednesday afternoon and Mike and I went back Thursday morning to watch all four of them depart.  
Not part of the tour but very neat to see is this bi-plane taking off behind the B-17 Flying Fortress.
This B-17, one of 12,731 built, was put into service in April 1945, too late to serve in combat. This plane served as part of the 1st Air/Sea Rescue Squadron and for the Military Air Transport Service. In 1952 she was fitted with instruments to measure the effect of three nuclear explosions. After a 13 year "cool down" period it was refitted to be used to drop water on forest fires. In 1986 she was sold to the Collings Foundation to be restored to her wartime configuration.     
Each of the planes are painted with the name of a plane that flew missions during WWII. This one is the "Nine-O-Nine" that was part of the 91st Bomb Group, 323rd Squadron. The Nine-O-Nine made eighteen trips to Berlin between February 1944 and April 1945, dropping 562,000 pounds of bombs. In that time she had 21 engine changes, four wing panel replacements and fifteen fuel tank changes. When the war ended she had 600 patched bullet holes.
Looking out the nose where the bombardier flew. Two of the plane's thirteen 50 milometer machine guns are mounted here.
Nanc in the bomb bay. The B-17 could carry up to 8,000 pounds of bombs. Depending on the mission it carried eight 1,000 pound bombs or sixteen 500 pounders.
The plane had a crew of ten, most of whom were machine gunners. I sure would not want to be the guy in the belly turret. They were in a bad spot if they could not get the turret into a position where they could get out and the plane had to do a crash landing.
The tail gunner was one of the worst positions. When I started teaching in Washington one of the teachers at the high school had been a tail gunner on a B-17. You can take a half hour flight on this plane for $450.00. 
The P-51 Mustang was designed to escort and protect bombers on the long flights from England to Germany. It had a range of 1,600 miles at speeds up to 440 mph, with six 50 caliber wing mounted machine guns.
  The Toulouse Nuts is one of only three original TF-51D two-seaters. It was used to train pilots. It is painted with the markings of a West Virginia Air Guard, 167th Fighter Squadron. You can go up in this plane for $2,200 dollars for a half hour or $3,300 for an hour. At those prices you get to take the controls. Not sure I would want to go up in a plane that had flames coming out of the engine as it prepared to taxi to the runway.
The B-25 Mitchell was a medium range bomber that was used primarily in the Pacific, but served in all theaters during WWII. Nearly 10,000 B-25's with a range of 1,350 miles and able to carry 1,200 pounds of bombs, were built. These planes became famous when Jimmy Doolittle lead 16 B-25's on a bombing raid on Tokyo only four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The plane had to take off from the USS Hornet, an aircraft carrier that got them closer to Japan.  
This B-25 was given the name Tondelayo and it flew with the Air Apaches in the South Pacific raiding the Japanese in New Guinea. The name came from a character played by Hedy Lamarr in the 1942 movie White Cargo.
Rides are also available on the B-25. The 25 minute flight cost $400.00. The roar of those engines is an unmistakable sound.
This B-24 Liberator heavy bomber is one of nearly 18,500 built. It was delivered to the US Army Air Force in October 1944 and then transferred to the Royal Air Force. In the Pacific Theater it was used for bombing missions and resupplying resistance forces. Following the war it was used by the Indian Air Force until 1968. 
In 2005 she was repainted with the name Witchcraft to honor the veterans of the 8th Air Force who flew in Europe. The original Witchcraft flew an unbelievable 130 combat missions over Europe without ever turning back or having a crew member injured or killed. 
The B-24 had ten 50 caliber machine guns. I can't imagine the bravery of the men who flew in these planes as pilots, navigators, bombardiers and gunners.  
The B-24 carried up to 8,000 pounds of bombs. Then only way from the front to the tail was across this narrow catwalk above the bomb bay doors.
A look into the cockpit gives one a clear understanding of what complex machines all these bombers were. It's a good thing RV manufactures were not building them, we may have lost the war.
On Thursday Mike and I went to see the planes take off to there next destination. Seeing them on the ground is one thing......
........seeing these 75 year old planes in the air is fantastic. You can take a 30 minute flight for $450.00.
These old engines were real oil burners and smoked a lot when they fired them up.
All three bombers preparing to depart one after the other. 
You want to cool off on a hot day just stand in the prop wash of one of these planes. Mike's shirt was flapping and the leaves on the trees across the road were shaking.
The B-17 taking off while the B-25 waits its turn. While we did not spend the money to fly, getting up close to these great, old planes that played such a big role in winning WWII is something you should not miss if the Wings of Freedom Tour is in your area. 
While not part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, the Spirit of Freedom C-54 is parked at the Washington Airport. It has been restored as a museum and to honor those who flew the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49. It is owned by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation and appears at many shows around the country every year.

We continue to be busy with family, friends and doctors here in WashPA. We are working on a couple RV projects but the weather has not been good for working outside, either too hot or rainy. We are here until the middle of October before heading south for the winter.