Sunday, June 29, 2014

Marion Fly-In 2014 Part 1

One of the opening activities for Freedom Festival is the Marion Fly-In in Marion, Iowa. Today the cloud ceiling was low and therefore no fly-ins participated. However several local small planes gave $10 a person rides throughout the morning.

A skeptical boy hangs on to his mother as they approach a small plane for a ride. 

Air traffic is brisk during mid morning but the crews did a good job in getting people on and off the planes.

A trio of guys get their photo taken after completing a successful flight.

Vehicle traffic was routed slightly differently than in years' past. A volunteer directs traffic away from the old entrance. Note the relative height of the corn in the background. Its been a wet spring.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Symbols of the University of Iowa

Look around Iowa City this spring and summer and discover lots of Herkies. This Herky the Hawk (athletic mascot) is decked as a graduate and occupies the main approach to the Pentacrest and Old Capitol, itself another strongly identified symbol of the university.

Directly in front of the statue is a metal representation of the seal of the university. While these icons can be found throughout the campus the tie-in to the school is strongest at this location on campus steps from downtown Iowa City.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

In Search of Ancient Americans - A Bill Anderson Presentation

Retired educator Bill Anderson spoke to a packed room at the English Valley History Center on Sunday, June 22, 2014. His topic was In Search of Ancient Americans and dealt with native tribes of southeast Iowa. Bill's opening remarks focused on his experiences as a middle school social studies educator and administrator.

Half jokingly Bill told the audience that there are four things that he would never do again if given a chance. Those being not to substitute teach, be a principal, officiate sports or drive a bus of kids.

Bill, who has a deep love of history and archeology has researched and collected items around North English and southeast Iowa for decades. He displayed an extensive collection of artifacts for his one hour presentation to demonstrate tools used for hunting and cooking. Bill's interest is to find evidence of ancient human existence and try to determine how those people lived.

While it is commonly believed that the Bering Strait land bridge allowed people to migrate from Asia to the Americas, Bill's talk focused on the period of European contact within Iowa. He explained that the Ice Age retreat of the glaciers probably led to conditions where mammoth kills took place. Currently there is an active dig of a mammoth herd near Ottumwa, Iowa. A search for a human connection to this site continues.

Bill showed examples of tools used by native cultures including arrowheads, mulls, axes, atlatls, plumb bob, game rock and fire crack rocks.

In Iowa Bill said there are 26,000 known native archeological sites, 348 sites alone in Iowa County. The state's archeological office estimates there are up to two million sites in Iowa. His talk in front of roughly 50 people also covered a summary sketch of Chiefs Wapello and Keokuk of Iowa plus Sauk & Fox warrior, Black Hawk, who to the surprise of many, was not a chief. All three leaders were present in the North English area from time to time.

"We need to teach more of the heritage of Iowa from all societies in our schools today," said Bill. "We can learn much more from them."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aluminum Overcast Visits Cedar Rapids During 2014 D-Day + 70 Years - Part 4

Last batch of photos of the Aluminum Overcast B-17 from last Saturday, beginning with the all important nose art.

Bottom turret gun. You had to be very small to fit in there.

Lots of aluminum on this warbird. And the overall color matches the sky conditions of the day too.

Cool newer tires on an old plane. While it may be old the Aluminum Overcast is well maintained. See it if you have a chance. 

The next stop for the Aluminum Overcast is Ankeny, Iowa. See the details of the 2014 tour here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Aluminum Overcast Visits Cedar Rapids During 2014 D-Day + 70 Years - Part 3

Me in front of the Aluminum Overcast yesterday at the Eastern Iowa airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

People gathered to see the warbird. A trailer housed the merchandising portion of the ground support group. 

Nose section of the B-17. That's the Norton bombsite in the front. Shhh, its still a secret.

US markings on the left fuselage of the Aluminum Overcast B-17.

Aluminum Overcast Visits Cedar Rapids During 2014 D-Day + 70 Years - Part 2

A friendly smile from a EAA volunteer who helps to organize the next list of passengers and allows others to view the B-17 aircraft close up.

The Aluminum Overcast flight crew in uniform. The pilot is on the left and the copilot is the second from the left.

The business end of a B-17. We were told that all thirteen machine guns on board B-17s only had ammunition belts that stretched nine yards long - 27 feet! That was enough for a continuous one minute burst.That's "Lee" in the enclosure.

The aircraft maintenance guy told me that he only worries when these engines STOP dripping oil.

A different angle on an old warbird. Aluminum Overcast will be here in Cedar Rapids through today, June 8, 2014 before going to the next city on the tour.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Aluminum Overcast Visits Cedar Rapids During D-Day + 70 Years - Part 1

One of perhaps 13 flying B-17s left in the world is Aluminum Overcast, a B-17G Flying Fortress from the WWII era.

Today, June 7th is D-Day +70 Years and one day, was also day two of the B-17 visit to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Aluminum Overcast last visited our post on the prairie in 2010. There are many area vets, relatives and interested people who came for a look at a piece of aviation history.

A local EAA volunteer takes photos of the plane for her collection. She also offered to photograph visitors using their camera and helped people get safely around the aircraft.The B-17's pilot and his copilot can be seen on the far right.

Filled with 10 paying passengers, Aluminum Overcast needs only a short distance to take off and land. The aircraft flies around the Cedar Rapids area for about 30 minutes. During this visit I have seen and heard it flying slowly around town at relatively low altitudes on four different occasions. Last year Fifi the only flying B-29 provided the same type of visit.

This is Aluminum Overcast's tail gunner. The dummy sports goggles, mask and a helmet from the WWII era. His scarf is stitched with the name of Lee. The historic aircraft will be here through tomorrow (Sunday, June 8th). Go to the former PS Air terminal on the west side of the airport by FEDEX operations. The ground walk around of the plane is free. Cost to go inside is $10 and $449 person to fly in WWII bomber comfort for 30 minutes. Call ahead of time, I believe one of the support crew told me only a few seats remain for Sunday series of flights.