Dec 12, 2015

Flying in a WW II C-47

John and I discovered many wonderful surprises when we visited Ann Arbor, Michigan.  John was thrilled when he found out that he could fly in a WW II C-47.  At the Yankee Air Museum he learned about Michigan’s contribution to aviation history. The airport is situated on property that was also the site of the Ford Motor
Company’s Willow Run Bomber Plant that built 8,685 B-24 Liberator bombers. At its peak it was the largest industrial facility (one mile in length and about a half mile wide) in the world at the time.  Also it was the first aircraft manufacturing complex to use Ford’s automotive mass production method, employing more than 42,000 people and produced a B-24 every 55 minutes. It was dubbed the “The Arsenal of Democracy.” 

The C-47 Skytrain, “The Yankee Doodle Dandy,” was similar to
the civilian DC-3. It was fitted with a cargo door, a strengthened floor, a tailcone for glider-towing shackles and an astrodome cabin roof. It was the workhorse used by many countries during WW II to transport troops, cargo and wounded.  The C-47 was instrumental in the success of most of the campaigns of WW II airlifting supplies in Burma, flying “The Hump,” and later used in the Berlin Airlift.

He toured the museum and met “Rosie the Riveter,” one of the many women who to took the place of men who were off to war. “Rosie” headed the campaign to encourage women to enter the workforce. The morning was foggy so John was afraid that the flight would not happen. Just as they were about to cancel the flight the fog lifted and he boarded the plane. He was strapped in on the bench with his back to the wall just like the WW II paratroopers while the historical interpreter, Tony Pequeno, pointed out the details of the plane and demonstrated the slide cable used by the jumpers.  John said he would not be afraid to jump but not while the enemy was shooting at him. The plane took off and wasn’t as noisy as anticipated and flew smoothly over the area.  An incredible experience. Now John would like to return to take a similar ride on a B-25 and/or a B-17.

While John was flying I had an incredible experience of my own. I took the Motawi Tiles free tour that is offered every Thursday at 11 a.m. I immediately recognized the tiles that were Frank Lloyd Wright and Tiffany inspired but what caught my attention were the
Charley Harper’s cardinals. I am now the owner of one.  All the tiles have the clean simple lines that draw their inspiration from the Arts and Craft movement. During the tour there were people at each station of production to explain their function. I was most impressed with the ladies who were “bulb” painting the tiles.  Motawi makes about 1000 tiles a

day but it takes five days for a tile to be completed. For me the highlight occurred at the end of the tour.  I got to make my own tile. When I finished creating the tile Motawi fired it and then mailed it to me. Awesome. The owner, Nawal Motawi, stopped by. She likes to “make pretty things that affect the lives of others.”  I would say that she has succeeded.  C-47 flights and Motawi tiles are excellent gift ideas.