The Liberty Gazette
April 20, 2021
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Every day when we take our elderly German Shepherd, Hilda, out for her walk, we encounter trash along the sides of the neighborhood roads. It’s abominable, and it makes us wonder what kind of people these are who toss their trash out in front of someone else’s house. We pick up what we can, drop it in the poop bags, and add it to our trash bin, all the while muttering things about these characters who we think even live in this neighborhood. Have they no pride in their community?
One day, Mike was so angry with the amount of trash he collected on just two streets that he wished he could take the Commemorative Air Force’s B-17G Flying Fortress and scare the bejeebers out of those skunks who are littering here daily. “Just like that video,” he said. “I want to do that to them.”
“What video?” I asked.
“The B-17 that hunted down a screwball just like these. It was a commercial for the Texas Highway Department’s ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ campaign.”
“Oh, cool,” I responded and rushed over to my comfy writing chair in the living room and looked it up on YouTube.
You might remember it. A couple of yahoos in an old red pickup rumble down a dusty West Texas highway, country music playing, and the driver tosses trash out his window.
Queue the announcer (in West Texas drawl): “Somethin’ to think about. If you throw trash on Texas highways…” (sudden change in music to a daunting, imminent “I will get you” bass note) “Somebody up there’s gon-be watchin’.”
A heatwave-rippled silhouette rises ominously from over the horizon and, just feet above the ground, it zeros in on the truck.
Announcer: “And you don’t wanna mess with the Texas Confederate Air Force.” Whoosh as the B-17 passes so low you must duck. “So don’t mess with Texas.”
Radio: “Bombs away.”
Yes, how wonderful that would be to invite the CAF to Liberty to hunt them down.
The CAF brought out their North American P-51 Mustang and Grumman F4F Wildcat along with the B-17, and the director tried filming the ad with all three aircraft, but the Flying Fortress produces so much wake turbulence that the other two couldn’t stay close enough behind it, and above the wake, they were too high for the dramatic effect.
Mike: Shot more than 20 years ago, people remember this commercial among all the other “Don’t Mess With Texas” spots, including those with Texas’ famous residents Chuck Norris and George Strait.
I wonder if the perpetrator’s perspective would change if all the trash they dumped on our streets over say 10 years was collected and then planted on their own front lawn by a low flying four-engine WWII bomber. Would the B-17’s bomb bay be big enough to hold it all? Let’s find out.