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on Nov 16, 2011 in Aviation

Why I Love Hangar Hanging

One of the really cool things about the AZ Wing of the CAF is the ability to hang around the hangars. I do it all day long! There is always something going on with aircraft, that’s the obvious photographic finds. But it’s the people who come to visit the Wing that are the real find. We have meet and become friends with many, most being vets from WWII. They come to see their old friends, the aircraft, and share some of their stories with their family. Well Monday we were hangar hanging with our good friend Bob at his Super Corsair when a docent came over and asked Bob is this 91yr old vet could sit in Stang, Bob’s P-51D Mustang. The gentleman flew them during the war. Without hesitation, Bob said yes and bounded over to Stang to assist. With camera in hand, I followed.

The gentleman hearing he could, started to approach the Mustang when he broke down. The memories came rushing back, what exactly they were, what his experience had been I don’t know but they were powerful. His family grabbed the gentleman steadying him. Bob then asked if the grandson would like to get up into the cockpit, experience a little of what his grandpa had long ago. Smart grandson, he was up and in in a heartbeat. After a little while grandpa had regained his composure and was being helped up into the cockpit. Once in, you could see he was back home, memories came rushing by and were communicated in his face mainly with big smiles. I asked if I could take some pics and they said yes with a very quizzical look on their faces.

Then I told the son and grandson to hop up on the wing for a quick portrait which they were happy to do. Then they all came off the wing and once grandpa was back on the ground, the emotions over came him again. And this is not uncommon in the hangar to the Wing or any time warbirds are out in public. To the men who flew them, they are more then just metal.

This is the reason I always have a camera with me when hangar hanging. After the family had finished with the Mustang and grandpa was back to telling stories, I passed them my business card telling them to contact me, I’d send them prints. Grandpa got all tearie eyed again. Odds of them all being together and with a P-51D again are pretty slim, the photograph though will always remind them of that moment. And that’s what photograph is all about!

Photos captured by D3s, 50f1.4AFS