Tom Santos, wing leader for the Rio Grande Valley Wing, and his wife Kate invited me to ride in a flyover for a Salute to the Troops celebration at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.
World-famous aviators flew in and out of here. I saw a picture of Charles Lindbergh when he landed at the airport. His famous landing in 1929, the first non-stop flight from Mexico City to a US city, proved the speed and efficiency of airmail. Another photo shows the many planes lining the runway waiting to greet him on this historic flight.
Amelia Earhart was in the crowd that day. She earned her pilot's license in Brownsville. Both she and Howard Hughes frequently landed here.
Pan American Airways based their WWII operations out of the Brownsville Airport.
These are just a few of the facts I learned as we waited. I only touched the surface. I'm going back. The museum is a fantastic resource and I encourage everyone to visit and experience the history of this corner of Texas. The museum is another story...
The CAF will host Air Fiesta 2010 on the weekend of March 13 and 14. I plan to be there. Before then, I plan to spend some quality time in the museum learning the history and enjoying all the photos and displays.
Oh yes, Tom's plane is an L-17, made during the Korean War. But that's another story...
A third pilot, Ed Mishou, prepped his plane, a small red and silver Ercoupe. Ed is retired Air Force and serves as the Wing's Adjutant Officer. For some reason, he didn't fly with us. Ed and his plane are another story...
A big thank you to Tom, Kate and David for making my day!
Stay tuned for more stories about this treasure chest of history called the Rio Grande Valley Wing, Commemorative Air Force Musuem. Check out http://www.rgvwingcaf.com/ for more info.