Bird-watching is a famous Camp Chewonki activity, but on July 27, two counselors took and the camp program director took ten campers down the road for something new: warbird-watching. The Wiscasset Airport, one of our neighbors to the north, was hosting the Texas Flying Legends, a collection of 13 classic World War II military planes, including a B-25J Mitchell, P-51D Mustang, FG-1D Corsair, and Spitfire Mk IX. The experience of seeing the planes up close and talking to the pilots who fly and maintain them today left campers and staff in awe.
Five Texas Flying Legends pilots led the special tour, which was the brainstorm of Will Perkins (Boys Camp ‘03-’06; Mariners; Boys Camp Staff ‘13,’15-’17), program director at the Boys Camp this summer. Rick Tetrev, a retired Navy commander and aviator who is the airport supervisor, worked with Texas Flying Legends Chief Pilot Warren Pietsch to make it happen.
“I was glad we were able to pull it all together,” said Tetrev. “It was definitely a treat. Some of the boys got to sit in the cockpit of a plane. [The pilots] didn’t even allow me to do that!”
For fourth-year camper Juju Khandalavala, age 10, seeing, touching, and getting inside the planes was a dream come true. He has been interested in World War II for years, he said, and “started studying World War II airplanes”some time ago. The unexpected visit to the airport is something he’ll always remember. He stood quietly searching for the right way to express his feelings. “To me, it was a gift,” he said.
Perkins described the tour as “incredible” and said the boys loved it and so did he. Counselor Shane Killen (BC ‘11-’14; Thoreau Wilderness Trip ‘15; Guide ‘16; BC Staff ‘17) said it was “Really cool. They had all the planes out and taxiing for us.” Both expressed their gratitude to Tetrev and the pilots for making the experience possible.
The guiding mission of the Texas Flying Legends, according to its website, is “honoring past generations and inspiring the leaders of tomorrow through active display of WWII warbirds.” The Legends were in Maine to fly at several private air shows and left Wiscasset for Texas on July 31.