Inside the hangar, sitting at a table, signing autographs was Corporal Mike Hunt, a tall, thin World War II veteran and member of the Alaska Wing of Commemorative Air Force.
In 2007, Hunt donated the very plane the three brothers stood by to the CAF.
“You wanted an airplane someplace – I’d get it to ya’,” Mike said, reminiscing about his young years in the air.
“We ferried our birds wherever they were needed.”
He paused and looked up from the table. Hunt is now 91.
During World War II, he flew for the Air Transport Command in the Army Air Force. He was never in combat, but he nearly died more than once.
A farm boy, he grew up in Iowa, destined for a life in the field, or so his parents thought. He was 16 when they discovered where he was actually going when he left the house. It wasn’t church; it wasn’t school – and he didn’t have agriculture aspirations.
He was going to the airport, logging hours in the air.
But, just a teenager, he wasn’t cleared without his parent’s permission to fly solo. And when he got it, they cut him off – “I was supposed to plant corn, not fly airplanes” – and money was tight, he said.
But when he joined the Army Air Force in 1942, age 19, he made it work. Besides, he said, he had already pocketed 80 hours of flight time in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Pilot Training Program, preparation for the war.
He said he was hazed pretty badly by the senior students: a freshman who could actually fly – that was unfortunate, he said. He said his trick was treating his plane like he would a woman: “graceful, careful and slowly.”
He almost jumped from a P-39 once when he was delivering it to Fairbanks from the Lower 48.<< previous 1 2 3 next >>