I wanted to experience what it was like to ride in the same type of war plane that my Uncle Ed Poltrack flew in the South Pacific in WWII. I’ve seen photos, taken the virtual tour posted on the Collings Foundation website and read some of Ed’s letters and flight diary accounts.
When the Wings of Freedom Tour visited Manchester Airport I had my opportunity. Before the flight we had to rotate the blades 9 times to clear out the pooling oil, something common to all radial engines.It was a thrill to hear (and feel) those twin 1700 HP Cyclone engines roar into action. After take off, I was able to crawl into the nose behind the machine gun with another “crewman”. This is a war machine and nothing about it is comfortable. We were flying low and slow, I can only imagine my uncle flying over the ocean with a jacket, gloves, oxygen mask, fully loaded with bombs and being under constant threat of being shot at.
This video has three parts, take off, flight and landing. We had to sit in jump seats behind the pilot during takeoff and landing. After we were airborne we crawled on our hands and knees through a tunnel into the nose of the aircraft behind the front machine gun. That was quite a view. The video is long but imagine doing this for hours, in frigid cold with an oxygen mask on with the chance of being shot out of the sky.