I'm David Hughes, son of Leroy Hughes, a pilot in the 500th. Hopefully, if all goes well, I'm about to live one of my fondest dreams: flying a B-25! I'm a private pilot, flying under Light Sport rules now. I fly gliders at Ball Airfield, a few miles north of Franklin County Airport. The B-25H Barbie III (number 2 off the line and a dual control model) is visiting the Franklin County Airport this week/weekend for an airshow. Rides have been offered to the public. I went up to the airport earlier in the week to see what I could find out and met John Makinson, Chief Flight Instructor of History Flight and lead pilot for Barbie III. Knowing that you have 100% better chance of getting what you want if you ask for it rather than not, I walked up to him, told him my Dad flew with the 500th of the 345th, that I was a pilot, and that I was interested in a ride. Moreover, I said smiling, I was interested in flying with them from Franklin County Airport to Chester-Catawba Airport in S.C., Barbie's next "port of call". I steeled my nerve and then said, "And I'd really like to get some right seat time if that's possible." He looked at me and then said, "Yeah, I think we can do that." I'm sure you can imagine that I've been walking on air ever since! If all goes well, we'll be leaving Monday morning at 9 am, for about an hour flight to Chester. I'll get right seat time and a log book entry. I'm paying the normal ride fee of $500 and donating a Boeing Astro Compass Mk II that I found and gave my Dad back in the 80s. They don't have one on Barbie, so it will be nice to know that I've added something to this plane! They'll have to fare in a sight dome or find a way to attach it in the turret as there doesn't appear to be a mount for it in the plane at this time. As of now, I don't have a way to get back from SC, but regardless, I'm GOING!! Something will work out or I'll walk back!!
My Dad and Frank Pohlman (also of the 500th) flew a B-25H (single control set-up) from Columbia, SC to Townsville, Australia in Feb.1944, then flew it up to Nadzab a few days later. I have not only his log book, but also his beautiful flight jacket and crush hat. I'll be wearing both of them on my flight. It seems really approriate that they fly at least one more mission. I'm hoping that when I'm flying, one of the other crew members can take some pictures and video with my cameras for me. I'd like to write an article for the newsletter about my flight if you think it would be appreciated by our members. Please let me know how you feel about this. I've almost gotten on board 2 other B-25s for a ride, only to have it not happen at the last minute, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed pretty much full time.
I have several things to ask you. I understood several years back that there is a way to find out who flew what on what mission based on some records that one of the 345th members has. If that is still possible, I sure would like to know what ship my Dad flew on several missions. Also, even though it looks like I'll get my ride now, it appears that one of the 500th or 345th members owns a B-25 painted in 500th colors. Is this correct? If so, does he ever take other members up when he's flying it? The only thing better than a flight in Barbie would be a flight in a ship in the proper colors etc!
I'm attaching a picture of Barbie, my Dad and me in Vegas in '86 at the Gathering of Eagles AFA meeting, and one of me in Dad's jacket 20 years ago. Dad's jacket literally hung on a nail in his shop for over 35 years before I rescued it and restored it. It's my most prized possession!
Thanks for taking the time to read all this, and I hope to hear from you soon,
10321 Ray Road
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