Sunday, July 19, 2015

'That's All Brother' Update

Like most stories that come out in the mainstream media, they seem to never come out with all the important details just right. I'm following the 'That's All Brother' saga as it unfolds, and in the wake of the CAF's VERY successful 'Kickstarter' campaign, some more pieces of the backstory surrounding the rediscovery of this historic C-47 are coming to light.

Now, according to this article-- which also mentions 'That's All Brother' will be on static display at the EAA's annual Oshkosh fly-in, the aircraft company that 'found' the plane in it's turboprop conversion queue, didn't just 'find' it . 'That's All Brother' had been tracked by an individual who served in the same unit after the pilot of 'That's All Brother' in postwar service and it was this gentleman-- an Air National Guard 'boomer'--in addition to the conscientious crew at Basler Turbo Conversions was instrumental in making the right people aware through personal perseverance:
Matt Scales was serving in an Alabama Air National Guard unit when he learned one of his unit's former members — Donalson, who died in 1987 — had flown the lead plane in the D-Day invasion. In 2007 Scales tracked down the unit Donalson served in during the war and searched the unit's history. He figured it would end there because most military historians didn't bother to record tail numbers.
But Scales and fellow military historian Ken Tilley hit the jackpot. Donalson's unit historian wrote down his D-Day plane's tail number: 42-92847. On a lark, Scales looked up the tail number in the FAA's database and got a hit. It was privately owned by a man in Arizona who was excited to learn his plane had flown on D-Day.
Scales, again, figured that was the end of it. He continued working as a boom operator in an air refueling wing and as a police officer in Alabama. Three years later he decided to check the database again and learned that by then the plane had been purchased by Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, which repurposes old DC-3 and C-47 planes into modern aircraft.
Randy Myers, director of production and engineering at Basler, had seen "That's All, Brother" with its Vietnam gunship paint parked at the airport in Waupaca years ago and made an offer to the Arizona man. Myers wouldn't learn of the D-Day connection until much later.
Once Scales realized it was at Basler, he contacted museums and aviation preservation groups to see if any were interested in saving the aircraft that led the D-Day invasion. None were, and Scales figured his quest had finally come to a dead end.
But last year a blogger mentioned the combat history of the C-47 parked in the boneyard behind Basler. Smith, of the Commemorative Air Force, thought his group was the perfect fit to save it. It exchanged a C-47 in its collection for "That's All, Brother" and began fundraising for the restoration.
There's lot's more of the story at the source.

Scales' enquiries and efforts are what spread awareness of the artifact and its location. And though no group responded to his personal efforts directly, it was those efforts that allowed the chain of events to unfold as they did.

Note: I wonder how much of this was also serendipitous. Scales served in the Alabama ANG, Were the resources that Scales needed to get the right tail number perhaps more readily available at Maxwell AFB, home of the Air University, in Montgomery?

    

2 comments:

Paul Finster said...

Please review:

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675058906_Allied-pathfinders_North-Witham_C-47-aircraft_Lieutenant-Colonel-Crouch_control-tower

Paul Finster said...

Another great link to review.

http://amcmuseum.org/history/troop-carrier-d-day-flights/#the-heart-of-the-matter