That’s Shadow-dog, of course. And that’s dad’s training plane some 80 years ago. The idea is that he’s flying up in the heavens now, wishing me a Happy Birthday. Our birthdays are only two days apart.
The Boeing Stearman was a military trainer introduced in 1934 when dad – George Byers Jr., was just 10 years old. They were dumped on the public after eleven more years, 1945, just after WWII. But I’m guessing that only after a half dozen years an early training model would have been run into the ground, as it were, and the military would have sold some of the more battered workhorses to some enterprising farmers wanting to utilize a bit of the new crop dusting technology and who knew a crazy enough young lad like my dad who would jump into such a wreck. That’s me in my immense naivete saying that. I’m sure it’s not really that way.
I’m betting that if the truth were told, with the preliminaries of WWII gearing up over in Europe, our own military, very short on pilots, dumped some of the planes early on with the farmers, not because the planes were worn out, but for ulterior motives. I bet the deal was that the farmers would only train in young, smart, but crazy would-be pilots who would be quietly assessed in their skills by the military. In other words, without knowing it, the kids self-select, the farmers confirm that, and then they are finally approached by the spotters. Dad was taken on in the early 1940s to a small military airstrip along the Mississippi river down in Iowa. He crashed before taking off the first time in a battered Corsair fighter attack plane they pointed him to. They forgave that crash and immediately had him try again. They knew he was better. Indeed. He quickly went on to become one of the most decorated fighter attack pilots in World War II.
This e-card took some research. I think I have the best parishioners in the world.