Saturday morning, December 19, broke clear with temperatures in the mid-30’s inland and 40’s near the beach. Three riders braved the early chill to meet at Slider’s Restaurant parking lot on the beach in Fernandina to witness the Winter Solstice (2 days early) sunrise.
Leaving the beach we rode backroads through Nassau County to Folkston, Georgia and the Okeefenokee Café where we met 9 other members and guests for breakfast.
We rode directly to the Douglas, Georgia airport to visit the 63rd Flight Training Detachment museum of the US Army Air Corps where we met one more member.
Aviation cadet basic fight training during WWII was conducted by civilian flight schools throughout the country.
We toured the museum seeing how flight cadets lived and were given ground school training in aerodynamics, navigation and basic flight training.
We followed up the museum with a tour of 2 aircraft hangers.
The main attraction for our visit was to see the restoration of a B-17 bomber. This particular B-17 was pulled from a lake in Labrador, Canada. The plane had missed its intended point of landing due to bad weather and opted to land on a frozen lake. The crew was rescued a few days later and in the Spring the plane fell through the ice.
Many of the parts for the plane being restored came from the B-17 , “Liberty Bell” which crashed in a field in Illinois in 2014.
The restoration will bring this aircraft back to flying condition. You may notice the aircraft is being re-skinned. The wings are set in place but not attached to the fuselage. This is definitely a work in progress and a labor of love for those doing the work.
In the other hanger we saw a Beechcraft T-34 Navy trainer, a Stearman trainer and a T-6 Navy trainer.
Those on the tour took their separate ways home. It was a beautiful, but chilly day for a 260 mile ride.