Open Hangar Day culminated Summer Jump School Saturday at the Frederick Army Airfield. Those graduating from Jump School received their blood wings at the end of the event.
Throughout the day, military displays and memorabilia were on display presented by the members of the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team. Instructors and students from the jump school showed off their equipment and answered questions about the team.
According to Laura Goodwin, for a membership fee, people are able to ride in a C-47 while it is dropping paratroopers.
Many veterans who served during World War II attended the event, and were more than willing to share tales. One such man was “Shanghai Jack” Blair, who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. According to Blair, he served in more than just those three wars.
“I’ve been at the tail end of every war since the 1700’s,” Blair said. “In fact, I rowed General Washington across the Delaware in 1773.”
Blair celebrates 34 years of naval service. During that time, he served aboard 21 ships. He is a retired engineman first class.
Other attendees included Brandon and Wendy Sample. They have been coming to Open Hangar Day for seven years. Brandon graduated jump school in 2014. Wendy said she hopes to get her pilot’s license soon. Brandon and Wendy drove down from Woodward to attend this event.
Along with Frederick’s Boogie Baby C-47, a plane out of Meacham Airport also participated in Jump School and Open Hangar Day. Southern Cross is also a C-47 and was flown by pilot commanders David Arber and Pat Mahaffey.
According to Arber, civilians may pay a fee to ride in Southern Cross, not just during Open Hangar Day, but holidays as well.
“Our Christmas Light Flights are popular,” Arber said. “We fly over the Dallas area at night and it’s just really a gorgeous sight.”
Kathleen Healey attended the event as an operative of the Office of Strategic Services or OSS agency. It was an OSS operative’s job to parachute into enemy territory. The OSS conducted multiple activities and missions, including spying and collecting information to help the war effort.
At the end of the day, those who graduated Jump School were awarded their wings in a ceremony. These graduates will return for Fall Open Hangar Day on Oct. 22.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602