A Flight Aboard the Tondelayo (B-25J)

Build your own B25J  Mitchell Bomber at Amazon.com

Plexiglass nose of the Tondelayo, a B-25J Mitchell Bomber, part of the Wings of Freedom Tour at Manchester Airport

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.

Wings of Freedom Tour
This aircraft is capable of flying at 272 MPH and has a sevice ceiling of 24,200 feet, we were just taking a slow ride

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.


Wings of Freedom Tour – Tondelayo

Build your own B25J  Mitchell Bomber at Amazon.com

38th Bomb Group - 823rd Squadron

There are more than one hundred surviving North American B-25 Mitchells scattered over the world, mainly in the United States. Most of them are on static display in museums, but about 45 are still airworthy.

A significant number of these were brought together for Catch-22, a 1970 war film adapted from the book of the same name by Joseph Heller. When Catch-22 began preliminary production, Paramount hired the Tallmantz Aviation organization to obtain available B-25s. Tallmantz president, Frank G. Tallman ended up finding war-surplus aircraft, and eventually gathered not only pilots to fly the aircraft but also a ground support crew to maintain the fleet. – Wikipedia

The Collings Foundation, located in Stow, Massachusetts sponsors a Wings of Freedom tour across the United States. When I learned they were flying a B-25 into Manchester airport,  the same aircraft my uncle piloted in the South Pacific, I knew I had to see this.

New Hampshire Chronicle was at this event and I was interviewed when I told them about my uncle. The segment can be seen by clicking on this link.

B-25J Mitchell Bomber – This is a different configuration than the one my uncle piloted. The clear plexiglass dome was replaced with a shorter nose fitted with two fixed 12.7mm machine guns and a 75mm cannon. I remember him commenting that it was quite loud.
Wings of Freedom Tour
Before the flight, we had to rotate the blades 9 times to clear the oil from the cylinders. It takes two people to move each blade.

Wings of Freedom Tour

Tondaleyo was a exotic dancer. She danced at places such as the Cotton Club. She was considered one of the most flashiest women of her day, with diamonds, furs, and minks galore. She’s also credited for being the first black woman to own a nightclub in New York.

Wings of Freedom Tour
I’ve seen photos, read my uncles flight diary, but I wanted to experience what it feels like to be in this war machine. It is hot, smells of oil and is incredibly loud. During take off I was seated behind the pilots. Thumbs up and away we go.
Wings of Freedom Tour
Crawling through a tunnel in a flying airplane was an interesting experience, but what a view of Manchester, NH
Wings of Freedom Tour
Didn’t see any enemy aircraft

Equine Tuesday

Last day to order from Amazon.com in time for Christmas delivery

I love old photos. When I visited my grandmother I remember going to the attic and looking at old family photo albums. It has been my mission for the latter part of my life to scan these photos and make them as available to the largest audience I can find. This blog was created with that purpose.

One of the Google daily themes for Tuesday is #EquineTuesday.  When you live in New Ipswich, you see horses everywhere, especially in Smithville. I have many recent photos but I decided to share a couple of the old scanned ones.

Pulaski Day Float by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Pulaski Day celebration. My grand uncle (John Stanley Poltrack) is seated on the podium with my grandfather (Anthony R Poltrack) to his immediate right. I’m assuming this photo was taken in the late teens or early 1920s.


Horseback riding at Playland by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Pony rides at Playland (Rye Beach, NY) in the 1950s.


Back in the Saddle Again by John Poltrack on 500px.com
My Aunt Mary on a pony in the 1920s.


Chris and Terry on Horseback by John Poltrack on 500px.com
My cousins Chris and Terry on a pony in the 1950s. I think my Aunt Kay must have combed their hair for this shot.


Dad by John Poltrack on 500px.com
My dad loved animals. This photo was taken in WWII and I believe the location was Korea. He could get very tan and in this photo he matches the horse.


Dad by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Riding bareback


New Ipswich WWII Veterans

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A while back  I scanned some WWII photos for the New Ipswich Historical Society which were used in a presentation at the Library called the “Greatest Generation“.

Town historian Hazel Balch Moore preserved the memory of these heroic men and women in a photo album, which she created for the New Ipswich Historical Society. In this album, 121 photographs capture their faces, forever youthful, never to be forgotten.

I’m a relative newcomer to town, I’ve only been a resident for about 40+ years but I am very familiar with WWII veterans since my dad, two uncles and one aunt served. I was named after an uncle that was killed in the Battle of Peleliu.

For me this is not a time for store sales and other nonsense. Click on photo for entire album.

New Ipswich WWII Veterans