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TAYLORVILLE — “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” — Marcus Garvey
You never know what you’ll find on any given Sunday, but last week, there were two WWII fighter planes parked at the Taylorville Airport.
Cliff Myers from Birmingham, Ala., Casey Roscell, of McCalla, Ala., and Frank Kimmell, Greenwood, Miss. were on their way to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the big AirVenture 2022 Air Show. It is the largest gathering of air enthusiasts in the United States.
Cliff and Casey were flying a P-51 Mustang WWII Escort Fighter. This particular plane belongs to the Commerative Air Force, which is a National Museum Organization. Their unit is based in Georgia. “We were on our way to OshKosh, Wis. for the big AirVenture Show. We happened to be flying around some bad weather and decided to land to fuel up and rest before the last leg of the trip. We randomly ran into our flying friend, Frank Kimmell, who happened to be flying to the same place!,” said Casey Roscell.
Frank Kimmell was flying the WWII Fighter F4U Corsair made famous by the 1970’s tv series Baa Baa Black Sheep about Pappy Boyington and the Black Sheep Squadron. Actor Robert Conrad played the character Gregory “Pappy” Boyington. “This one here is actually in the Korean War Squadron BMF412 in honor of Major Phillip C. DeLong, who was a WWII Fighter Ace that shot down two planes in Korean War and 11 in WWII,” said Frank.
Frank is one of four private owners that own the Corsair plane. Casey and Cliff are volunteer pilots.
The mission, after WWII, for the Commemorative Air Force Museum, was to save these old planes. According to Casey, a bunch of retired pilots took jobs as crop dusters after the war. They noticed that all the old fighter planes were being demolished and sold for scrap. They decided they should be preserved for historical purposes.
Joining us at the airport were some members of the Taylorville Fire Department, as well as a few veteran onlookers. Not only were we treated to some history, but were given a fly over by the gracious pilots. Anyone who is an aviation enthusiast would have been in the height of their glory. As one retired Marine veteran said when they fired up the engines, “That smell (jet fuel) is my happy place.”