After 11 weeks in Michigan, we traveled south to visit some friends, Jordan and Niki Brown, in Indiana. They had planned to house us on their property, but rain had softened the ground prior to our arrival. So, they decided to move us to the Terre Haute Regional Airport to park next to their airplane hangar. The setup included a picturesque view of their C-47.
C-47 Skytrains served as military transport aircraft in WWII. They hauled 75mm guns and other supplies through mountains, transported spies, and were used to rescue the forgotten 500 from Yugoslavia.
This particular C-47 had been designated to be the backdrop for an airport event the night we arrived, so we got to taxi in it with our pilot host to get it into place.
Another WWII aircraft needed to be moved to the event as well, so we also got to taxi in the Twin Beech C-45. These planes served as light bombers and transporters, as well as trainers. They were also used for scouting missions.
I got to take a flight in the C-45 before the week was up. You get a much better feel for a location when you see it from above. Green wooded areas and farm fields surround houses and small communities in this section of rural America. We’ve grown to love small-town USA — especially after living in a large metropolis for 24 years.
As it turned out, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Airbase Arizona’s B-25 “Maid in the Shade” arrived in Terre Haute two days after we did as part of its mission to educate, honor, and inspire. This iconic warbird, made famous by the Doolittle Raid, is the one Bob serves as a crew chief on and that we tour with every summer.
This year, Bob volunteered to be a summer tour coordinator and had actually coordinated this stop. We had planned to visit at this time before we knew the B-25 would be here at the same time. It made for a nice reunion with our CAF friends, and we were able to pitch in and help the crew as needed. It was like being on tour without being on tour.
A couple of days before we left, an SBD Dauntless WWII dive bomber and scout plane landed at the airport and parked next to the B-25, providing a bonus peek at history for onlookers.
To get back to our trailer after taxiing the warbirds to the Saturday evening event, we had the privilege of riding in a half-track military vehicle, a hybrid between a tank and a Jeep. These vehicles were used in WWII to transport supplies across uneven terrain.
While in the area, we also toured a metal shop that fabricates aircraft and ship parts. The massive specialized machines we saw made us “wow” in amazement. And if that wasn’t enough, a Patton tank and a Deuce military truck stood on display outside the shop, reminding us of the sacrifices made for our freedoms.
We saw a third tank too: our hosts’ tortoise, aptly named “Tank.” He can move faster than you might think and leaves circular “trails” around, marking where he’s eaten grass. He wears a bright orange flag so his owners can find him.
The day before we left Indiana, we got to do some target shooting, making it a completely all-American stop. We both shot a lever .357 rifle for the first time, aiming to hit five plates on a Texas Star shooting target. I got all five in six shots. We also shot some handguns.
The humidity got to us after a while, so we dipped in our hosts’ pool with a cornfield backdrop as our Indiana stop wound to a close.
We left Indiana feeling extremely blessed and appreciative. We were thankful to visit my cousin, Beth, and her husband, Dave, near Indianapolis and catch up and play games. And we greatly enjoyed our time with Jordan and Niki and the B-25 crew.
It’s always an honor to be around warbird planes. We never get tired of hearing the B-25’s engines roar to life and rev up for takeoff. It’s an amazing sound that makes us feel alive and proud to be Americans.
Hoosier Aviation took wonderful care of us and the B-25 crew while we were there. If you’re ever in the Terre Haute area, drop in and say hi to Josh and Becky Thompson and let them know Bob and Lana Gates sent you.
This is the travel blog of Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong. We live on the road full time, enjoying all the adventures that come our way.