formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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August 30, 2011 Warbirds on Parade

The Liberty Gazette
August 30, 2011
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Photo courtesy DFW Wing CAF
Linda: Lancaster, 20 minutes from downtown Dallas, is home to a busy community airport. The International Aerobatic Club has contests there and this spring the locals hosted their first air race. It’s also home to the DFW Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). This Saturday, September 3, you’re all invited to the Lancaster airport for the annual Warbirds on Parade. This year promises to be even bigger and better; just ask Charlie Wood, a man in the know. Come see WW11 Bombers, Fighters, Cargoes, Trainers, L-Birds, Communist Mig 21, 23, Hind 24, Hind 2 Helicopters, L-39's, L-29's, “and a few surprises.” There will be nearly 100 classic cars, along with military vehicle and equipment displays. Re-enactors and living history groups will take you back in time - they’ll have their communication gear and may be calling in air strikes - let the kids come and see that cell phones haven’t always been in existence. And don't miss the restored farm tractors and tractor pull, and the “Hit & Miss Engine Display.” WW11 Marine Veteran, R.V Burgin, author of "Island of the Damned" will be selling and autographing his book. His character appeared in episodes 5,6,7,8,9,10, of the HBO series, "The Pacific." They’d like a donation of $10 per car or $5 per person because it costs a lot to keep this show running.

BT15 Photo courtesy DFW Wing CAF
It’s a lot of hard work, but Charlie can’t be happier about the event’s success. They’ll be setting up all day Friday and will be back before daylight. A former DFW Wing leader, Charlie will get to the airport about 5 a.m. Saturday “and there will already be about 300 people there,” he laughs. Last year he served 85 pounds of barbeque, plus hot dogs. This year he expects to serve more. “We’ll all be dead tired but will have a smile on our face.”

R4D Photo courtesy DFW Wing CAF

What drives Charlie Wood and others like him to dedicate their time and resources? “We need to educate these children,” he says. “The CAF teaches about the sacrifices and suffering, and that freedom isn’t free. We fly exhibitions in remembrance and to honor those who flew and protected our freedom.”

 Mike: The 8,000 member CAF boasts ownership of 160 WWII airplanes, seen by at least 10 million people a year. “We give them a history lesson and these are the tools,” Charlie says.

Photo courtesy
Raymond Jeffcoat, DFW Wing CAF
He’s only 61, but he feels an obligation to an older generation. He did not serve in the military; this is his way to pay back. He’s “just a hometown boy who tries to make a difference.” One of his grandmothers worked in the North American plant where T-6s and P51s and bomber sections were built. His other grandmother worked at the Johnny Mitchell Company, a cotton-gin-builder-turned-war-ordinance maker for anti-aircraft guns (armament on ships). “The country came together. Everybody did something for the war effort and that’s why we have freedom today,” he says. So he flies in air shows and does his part to educate and honor. It’s not uncommon, but deeply meaningful, each time an elderly man walks up to Charlie and starts telling his story. “I’m privileged to hear it at the same time his family is hearing it, with a tear in his eye.”

Go to or call Charlie at (972) 287-6228. 
"Ziggy" Stinson L3 Photo courtesy DFW Wing CAF

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