It’s 7:30am, and already we’re on the field at Oshkosh, preparing to move 02766 from the fields and onto the large concrete display pad called ‘Warbird Alley’ where the ‘Warbirds in Review’ interview will be held today at 10:00am. 02766 is taxied by Chris about a 1/2 mile around a large block of other warbirds to the front entrance of Warbird Alley, while photographers snap pictures of this unusual liaison aircraft hung with bazookas!
‘Warbirds in Review’ presentations strives to allow audiences a chance to hear combat pilots tell their story. Tom Rozga was the first ‘Warbird’ presentation of this year’s AirVenture, and he carried off the presentation with concise, interesting accounts of his flight time as a Marine Corps Observation Co. in VM04 during WWII. 50-plus Rozga relatives showed up as true roadies to hear thier ‘Pop’s story. Chris and I were also on stage with Tom, but we left most of the presentation time to Tom, as he was definitely the main attraction.
Tom’s timeslot was shared by another veteran pilot who flew PT-26s and other aircraft during WWII, so the audience got to hear some of this story as well.
The EAA audio/video crew filmed the event, and the local Milwaukee TV channels showed up to get Rozga on film for the 9:00pm news. Following the presentation, many Airventure attendees came up to Tom to say ‘thanks’ for his service, ask questions and to share their stories too.
Another veteran, WWII VM05 pilot Mertin Hansen was also in attendance, assisted by L5 owner Duncan Holland of Tennessee. Mr. Hansen was familiar with the pilots of VM04 and he had additional interesting stories to tell of flights in the OY-1s.
After the hubub of the presentation finally died down somewhat, 02766 was moved back to the field area, where the Rozga family gathered with folding chairs and ice-chests, for an afternoon at the air show. Jim Busha finished up more interviews for his magazine article, while photographers from Warbird Digest and others took numerous photos of the airplane, Mr. Rozga and family.
We met a man from Minnesota who mentioned he was building a Stinson 10A, and thought he knew someone in our area (Upland, CA) that had Stinsons too. Turned out, he was buying parts from our hangar-neighbor, John Findley…small world!
After a long day of visiting and discussing the history of VM04 (and many details we are still filling in), we removed the bazookas from 02766, and packed them away, ready to be shipped back home. We got more than one wistful look from the air-to-air photographers who’d asked if 02766 could please fly with them installed? Maybe after the FAA paperwork is done….
Tommorrow, we plan to take off out of Oshkosh for the air-to-air flights and not return to Oshkosh, but instead land the plane back at West Bend, and avoid the congestion. Another busy day ahead….