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Wings on display

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airport display

SUMMER VACATION — (Top) Kokomo Municipal Airport is shown. (Bottom left) Spectators view a Japanese Baka Suicide Bomb. (Bottom right) A Nazi V-1 Buzz Bomb sits on dislays. All photos were taken on June 29, 1947.

In 1903 a pair of Dayton, Ohio brothers laboring with theoretical air flow designs, altered human motility forever. Piloting their fragile “Flyer” just above the Kitty Hawk, N.C. sands , Orville & Wilbur Wright ignited aviation interest and technology for succeeding generations.

I have been a wannabe aviator since I was a kid. Watching Sky King on Saturday morning TV and later episodes of 12 O'clock High whetted my appetite. Mom & Dad used to make day trips with sis and I to Weir Cook Airport in Indianapolis and Midway Airport in Chicago simply to watch the big birds fly in and out. Deep throated drone of the big radial engines seemed to quiver every muscle in my youthful body.

The majority of us are intrigued by and are thrilled with aircraft of any type. Whether visiting a nearby airport, aviation museum or traveling by airliner, when we gaze upon the sleek winged beauties, we feature ourselves behind the controls, aloft of fluffy clouds in the clear wild blue yonder.

Air shows are fantastic avenues by which to score an aviation “fix”. Gleaming ranks of vintage, contemporary or experimental aircraft can put you into overdose pretty quick. Boarding a DC-3, B-17 or C-5 Galaxy for a walk through experience is tops in my book.

Looking back at the close of World War II, aviation technology had grown by leaps and bounds. Aircraft were flying higher altitudes and velocities with jet power which staggered the mortal imagination. The masses wanted to see, touch and fly them. Kokomo Municipal Airport Manager Harry McKay took on the challenge of making that happen.

I located some photographic evidence of McKay's 1947 labors tucked in an old envelope. The 2nd. annual Kokomo Air Show blasted off Sunday, June 29, 1947. News reports described attendance to be in excess of 25,000 enthusiasts.

There was no shortage of thrilling flying machines to ogle and slobber over. Captured Axis aircraft were a big draw to the airport out in Howard Township that day. Some featured warplanes included a Japanese Nakajima Tojo-2 fighter, a Japanese Baka suicide bomb, a Nazi V-1 Buzz Bomb and a rare Nazi Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet rocket plane.

As for American pride, a series of low passes just above the runway by the new Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter based out of Wright Field, Ohio set hearts thumping. The craft never made a landing but the speed, beauty and sheer power of the latest in Uncle Sam's arsenal made the day unforgettable.

Being a history junkie, seeing those craft up close would have been a thrill. Oh, I've been to my share of air shows but this one took place close to home. I arrived in this world in mid-1955. According to my calculations, that's about eight year too late. Just my luck.

-That's 30-