Category Archives: Alaska Warbird Museum

My non-profit museum project intended to honor those who have been willing to stand up and protect the freedoms we take for granted.

Loss of a Legend

Olivia de Havilland passed away yesterday at the age of 104.  She is indisputably one of the greatest actresses of all time and one of the most beautiful.  Winner of 2 Oscars and roles in such great films as Gone with the Wind,  she is probably most famous for two things…

  1. In the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood,  she gets to ride Trigger,  before he became Roy Rogers’ costar and sidekick and…
  2. She visited Yakutat in 1943 touring Alaska military bases.

Her loss ends the great era of Hollywood.  No one left now.  And yes,  she was a relative to Geoffrey de Havilland,  founder of the de Havilland Aircraft Company-maker of the Mosquito, Beaver, Otter and many other great planes.

Weird Time Warp?


Photo courtesy: the Levi Ballard Collection

This is a photo from WWII here in Yakutat.  These are rows of “Yakutat Huts”,  one of the two building designs named after the Yakutat Air Base,  where they were first built.  Quonset Huts were named after Quonset Rhode Island,  not Mr. Quonset who didn’t design them…  Yakutat Huts were a 16′ x 16′ prefab wood building kit that could easily be assembled,  used,  disassembled and moved.  They were used all over the world and if you look at any WWII era military base that is still in use,  they will almost always have a “Yakutat Street”,  where 75+ years ago the rows of Yakutat Huts were used for housing.

Question:  Why is this guy talking on a cell phone?

A Frightful and Sad D-Day

Let me start this by thanking all the men and women in uniform who risk their lives to protect me,  my family,  my property,  businesses and those who I love and care about.  That by no means covers every man and woman in uniform,  but it does go out to the vast majority of them.  Police,  fire,  armed forces…

With that out of the way,  today we look back 76 years at a pivotal event in human history where people from all over the world united to land on the shores of France and take Europe back and bring freedom to those who longed to see it again in their homeland.  Unfortunately,  we seem to be watching freedom slip away in our own country and witness a nightly orgy of violence,  destruction and horror at the hands of our fellow Americans.

And some really don’t get it…

Biggest antifa rally in history.

— Mara Liasson (@MaraLiasson) June 6, 2020


Yes kids,  that would be Mara Liasson,  a 35 year veteran of NPR.  She is really saying the landings in Normandy on D-Day and ANTIFA rioting,  burning cities,  looting stores and beating bystanders to death in our own country are the same.  She isn’t alone.  There have been MANY of these hot takes today from our media betters,  entertainment celebrities,  politicians and regular blithering idiot Americans.  This is showing more than ever the failures of our public education system.  Pick up a fucking history book you moron!  Sorry for the potty word there,  but if ever it was appropriate,  it would be to these idiots.

We are also seeing a very vocal push to “defund the police”…  Not by the fringe,  but by mayors,  Hollywood mega-stars and members if Congress.  How about we defund NPR instead?

The Greatest Generation fought and died so that today we would have the freedom to throw everything they held dear into the toilet.


As a reminder of what makes a hero,  Teen and I will be watching the Glenn Miller Story tonight.  Glenn Miller was the #1 entertainer in the world for four straight years (1939 to 1942),  until he volunteered to join the US Army in 1942.  In December of 1944,  a few months after D-Day,  he was lost flying across the English Channel to France to perform with the US Army Band for troops near the front lines.  The Norseman he was flying in disappeared into the fog,  never to be seen again.  The BBC officially announced on Christmas Eve that his plane was lost.  No one ever really knew what happened to his plane and no trace was ever recovered.

“Then on Feb 11th,  2000,  the logbook of war-time RAF flight engineer Derek Thurman from Derby,  England was sold for $880 on Sotheby’s internet sales site.  It tells of how a British air raid on Germany was sent back to base,  the night Glenn Miller disappeared.  The 138 Lancaster Bombers dumped their explosives over the sea,  as was normal practice,  to ensure a safe landing.  Mr. Thurman said three crew members on his plane spotted a light aircraft below them,  which they believe was brought down by the hail of jettisoned bombs.”

Glenn Miller was the most successful entertainer of his day.  In The Mood is still the 7th biggest musical hit in history (adjusted for inflation…).  He walked away from extreme wealth and comfort to risk (and lose) his life doing what he could to bring a little bit of home to all those soldiers,  airmen and sailors who were across the sea fighting for their lives and for our freedom.  And to bring comfort and joy to the civilians who had been bombed,  threatened,  occupied and oppressed by the Nazi regime for years.  Yep,  just like ANTIFA…  Or…

The Glenn Miller Story is a fantastic movie.  Not really reality-based for a biography,  but it is still exceptional.  It stars James Stewart,  one of (if not the) greatest movie star of all time (Entertainment Weekly has him listed as #3 behind Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn).  He had enlisted in the Army Air Corps before Pearl Harbor and was actually working guard duty on an air base the morning of December 7th.  He already had his pilot license before he enlisted and would soon have his Best Actor Oscar (for the Philadelphia Story – co-staring with #2) on the mantel.

Unlike most Hollywood stars who volunteered to sell war bonds and travel around in protected areas to entertain,  Mr. Stewart wanted to fly bombers.  The brass wouldn’t allow it.  It took him a year to finally manipulate his way into a bomber squadron heading to England.  He flew about two dozen missions and became the squadron commander.  He refused to sit out the dangerous missions as the brass wanted and earned the respect and admiration of all who served with him.

Jimmy returned to Hollywood after the war,  but his confidence as an actor was shaken.  His first movie post-war was with my favorite director Frank Capra,  also Frank’s first post-war movie – It’s a Wonderful Life.  He suffered bouts of PTSD on the set (before we knew what that was),  but struggled though to become an even bigger star than he was before and to rise to the rank of General in the new Air Force.  He continued to fly active/dangerous missions in the Korean and Viet Nam wars.

These two men – Jimmy and Glenn – were two of the greatest entertainers ever.  But they are heroes and giants in history because of what they volunteered to do to save the world,  not to loot and riot.  Where are the Jimmys and Glenns today?

TransNorthern Landing at Tsiu

Great video of the TransNorthern Super DC-3 landing at a very flooded Tsiu River.  Enjoy:

June 5th

I’m down in Sitka right now getting the annual done on the Cessna 206.  Was supposed to be done yesterday,  but we had to change out a cylinder and realign my rudder.  Otherwise,  everything else went smoothly.  But I’m still stuck in SIT.  Wasn’t planning to bring my laptop,  but with the D-Day events happening,  ya the laptop came.

I still have a few minutes of June 5th left way out west in Alaska.  The 5th was when those amazing young punks jumped out of thousands of C-47’s to secure roads,  bridges and approaches to the Normandy Coast to save the world from evil.  I already posted about the C-47 “Liberty” and have been following her flight from Denver to England.  Well,  it is the 6th now in Europe and “Liberty” is in France.  Here is a screenshot of her tracking since she arrived in England…


A few days ago,  they flew down to the southern coast,  then back to Dukford Airport.  Yesterday when they should have been loading up paratroopers for the drop,  they flew around the local Dukford area.  Apparently,  the weather was terrible,  so they had to postpone the jump – not unlike the weather 75 years ago!  This morning,  they were in France at Caen.  Boy,  do I wish I was there with my other plane,  instead of here with the Cessna…

This has been a productive trip though,  as we have been discussing a plan to get our C-47 back in the air with my mechanics.  A year late,  but maybe this time it’ll happen.  They suggested a Go-Fund-Me page,  but I have no idea where to begin with that.  Anyone out there with some experience,  give me a call!  I need help with that.

A friend has been feeding me photos from the D-Day events and if it is OK,  I’ll post some below:

From the WWII Airborne Demonstration team from a FB post yesterday.

Overlord Update—75 year-ago-redux. If you’ve watched Band of Brothers you know the phrase, “No jump tonight.” That was the situation then and it was our situation today. Rain and high winds on the drop zone. And, so, we’re waiting. And, while we wait, we train! We turned today’s disappointment into a dress rehearsal for tomorrow, putting on our parachutes, adjusting our gear, practicing our safety procedures, going up on flights, and then adjusting to see how we can do it again even better. Things happen for a reason—if you’re willing to give them one. And, so we’ve done just that. Tomorrow’s forecast? It’s tough. And, it’s changing by the moment. If you’re a person of faith, we invite you to join us in prayer for dry calm conditions tomorrow with a high cloud ceiling. If prayers are not your approach, we welcome any good thoughts. Thank you for being with us through this. We’ll report tomorrow as soon as we know our status! Photos are of just a few of our members today. By Max Ipinza, Like Sharrett, and Andrew Kristopik #overlord19 #dday75 #daksovernormandy #DDay #Veterans

From the FB page for That’s All Brother Commemorative Air Force

“No livestream today, but there was this….a sight not seen for maybe 75 years…(photo by John Cyrier)”

No updates but I’ve seen where they have crossed the channel 3 hours ago. I’m sure this afternoon I’ll have some pictures and possibly videos to share.

I watched a video where somebody on the demonstration team said that the weather may be too bad for jumpers but they’ll still fly over the memorial at Normandy. Not sure what is going on at the Moment.



D-Day 75th

Well,  so much for me taking time off from the blog…

I can’t let this one go though…  The 75th anniversary for D-Day is coming in two weeks.  I have been following the “Daks Over Normandy” events and it is a little heartbreaking to see our actual D-Day survivor trapped in the hangar.  She deserves to be flying to England right now!


Original June 6th newspaper from the collection…

“Daks Over Normandy” ( will see about 50 DC-3’s and C-47’s gathering in England,  then on June 5th,  they will load up 250 round chute paratroopers and deliver them over the original drop zones.  More than a dozen planes are enroute right now from the US with stops in Goose Bay  Canada,  Narsarsuaq Greenland,  Reykjavik Iceland and Wick in Scotland.  Many of them are just DC-3’s with no war history,  while N91314 sits here in Yakutat…

Legend Airways “Liberty” is a C-47 delivered to the Army Air Force exactly one year after our baby began her service.  They served side-by-side in Oran,  Algeria with ours arriving at the base March 22nd,  1943 and “Liberty” arriving August 17th,  1943.  They both served together in North Africa,  Sicily and Normandy.  They are truly “sisters” in every sense,  so “Liberty” is the plane I’m living vicariously through…


N25641,  serial number 9059 built in Long Beach and delivered to the Army February 11th,  1943.

So…  a friend of mine sent me a link to the GPS tracking page as “Liberty” flies to Europe.  Hope it is OK if I post this publically David!

“Liberty” is resting tonight in Iceland and will be in the UK tomorrow.  I took some screenshots of the flight path earlier today,  as they were exactly half-way between Greenland and Iceland.


Started in Denver a few days ago.  Had to spend a few nights in Iowa City when the left engine began backfiring and they needed to do some repairs.  Glad that didn’t happen out over the empty North Atlantic!!!

Well,  I’ll be keeping her on my screen throughout the next couple weeks and then for her flight home.  Keeping her and the others in our thoughts and prayers,  as they honor one of the pinnacle events of the 20th Century.  Honoring those brave men (and a few women) who went to war to battle true evil,  so that we could live in freedom.  We owe them so much.

Here is one of our posters from the museum collection:


One of our posters from the museum collection…  Seems appropriate with the artwork showing a C-47 dropping paratroopers.

One More Veteran’s Day Post

Watch this.  I dare ya!  If you don’t lose it by the time the dog appears,  you have no soul!

100 Years Ago – a War that Never Ended

Who’s ready for a long rambling post?  In 12 minutes Alaska time (as I start typing this),  we mark the official ending of The Great War – the War to End All Wars.  It didn’t end anything.  Didn’t solve anything and didn’t prove anything.  As part of my hangar tours,  I say that there really wasn’t two separate world wars.  Just one conflict between mostly the same belligerents with a 13 or so year armistice in the middle.  (WWII began in 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria,  not in Euro-centric 1939…)

On 11/11/1918,  most soldiers on both sides had no idea what was happening.  3,000 servicemen died on the morning of November 11th,  as the Americans crossed the Meuse River,  leaving the bodies of Marines behind as they pushed through the fire of the German Maxim guns.  The Americans were seizing the high ground,  pushing the Germans back toward their homeland.  Then everything went silent.  Orders came forward from General Lejeune that our men were to retreat to the position they held at 11 o’clock.  Retreat to a position with our backs against the river with no escape,  should this prove to be just another rumor.  Back – past the piles of bodies,  who until moments ago had been their fellow marines,  friends,  brothers.  All killed AFTER the armistice.


A 1917 Bond Drive poster from our collection

Japan and England were allies in WWI.  England asked them to strike Germany’s colonial outposts in the far east.  Japan wondered why they were doing this for England and not for themselves…  They spent the next 13 years reorganizing their society and building an army and navy capable of taking over half the world.  Italy too changed sides,  joining Germany and Japan,  after being on the side of France,  England,  Russia and the United States in the Great War.  An end to active fighting on 11/11 didn’t end the anger,  hatred,  jealousy,  coveting and desire for revenge.  Another 100 years passing hasn’t changed that either.

As part of our WWII hangar tour,  I show two infantry rifles from our collection.  One is a Japanese Koishilawa rifle made around 1927 or 1928.  The Japanese stopped making these in 1929.  The other rifle was actually my dad’s hunting rifle.  It is a Smith Corona 30.06.  I call it my “typewriter”,  because it was made by the Smith Corona typewriter company.  These two artifacts together really illustrate the difference in preparedness between Japan and the United States at the start of WWII.  Japan thought they were so well-prepared for their global conquest that they literally stopped making these infantry rifles in 1929!  The US was so ill-prepared,  we had to have typewriter companies like Smith Corona and IBM make WWI-era rifles for our soldiers to carry.


Um…  we had a US Department of Labor CHILDREN’S BUREAU in 1918???

Our two Coastal Defense cannons on Cannon Beach are WWI guns.  They were supposed to be installed on a new battleship in 1919,  but after signing the Naval Agreement,  the size of everyone’s navies (except Germany and Japan apparently) was restricted.  The new ship was scrapped and the guns placed in storage.  In early 1942,  these guns were pulled out and shipped throughout Alaska.  WWI supplying the defense of Alaska in WWII.

If you go to the Aviation Museum in Anchorage,  look for two framed pieces of WWI aircraft skin on display.  They come from the aircraft of Charles H Russell,  a member of the Lafayette Escadrille in France during WWI.  The Lafayette Escadrille (originally called the American Escadrille,  but the Germans complained and so they changed the name…) consisted of a group of American volunteers flying for France prior to the United States’ direct involvement in WWI.  Basically an all American “French Foreign Legion” group of pilots.  A wonderful book that covers the Lafayette Escadrille (along with Manfred von Richthofen,  Pershing,  Patton) is To the Last Man,  by Jeff Shaara.  The Russells are a very prominent family in Yakutat,  since Charles H’s son moved here about 60-70years ago.

At the end of WWI,  we all held hands and signed treaties to reduce our military effectiveness voluntarily.  We didn’t change human nature.  We deliberately weakened ourselves,  making us vulnerable to aggressive psychos who’s goal was/is to subjugate and dominate the world.  Those people haven’t disappeared after 100 years.  They are still looking-hoping for a weakness to exploit.  Our only defense is a military so strong and deadly that the world fears a conflict with it.  And to keep our own aggressive psychos in check,  an armed populace to strong and deadly that our government fears a conflict with it.

And a hope that we never have to use either.  Thank you to all our veterans on this and EVERY day.


This 1917 Navy recruiting poster with “Christy Girl” is our most valuable propaganda poster in the collection (so far)

Veterans Day Tomorrow

A friend sent me a link to an NBC story about a batch of war propaganda posters discovered in a New Hampshire library recently.  Here is the link:

Just to point out the kind of collection we have here (but unfortunately can’t display yet,  till we get more of the building heated and dry),  of the 4 posters they have in the two photos for the story…  we have all 4 of them.  Plus most of the ones they describe (like the Nazi fist stabbing the bible),  we have those too.  Their collection consists of 190 posters.  We have over 400…  I don’t have most of the collection photographed yet,  but here are some of the ones they feature…

The poster in the guy’s hand and the one on the table…


Here is the Nurse Cadet Corps poster on the left.  I don’t have the “can” rationing photographed,  but here is another in the same rationing series about rationing meat…  We have the whole series.


“This is the Enemy”…

And the article talks about posters that look like Norman Rockwell painted them…  That’s because he did illustrate many government propaganda posters,  like these illustrating FDR’s “Four Freedoms”…  By the way,  we don’t have “freedom of worship”,  we have freedom of religion.  The effort to change it to “worship” comes straight out of the Soviet constitution.  They had the freedom to worship the government approved religion,  not a freedom to worship any religion.  Big distinction!  The “Freedom of Speech” image is a cool duel self-portrait of the ender Rockwell looking up at the young Rockwell.  And what the hell does “Freedom from Want” even mean?  I want a B-17.  And an SBD Dauntless.  And a P-51 Mustang with duel controls.  Come on Government,  satisfy my “want”…  Unfortunately we seem to be raising a generation of Americans who expect the government to satisfy their wants – let alone their needs

May the sacrifices of our veterans to keep our world free not be wasted by our current and future generations.

DC-4 Follow-up

My uncle sent me an e-mail after I posted the DC-4 photos:

Saw your Blog on the DC4. Your Dad was a crew chief on DC4s in Germany. Talked to childhood neighbor Bill Peterson last week. He said that Doug told him that the DC4s still had coal dust from the Berlin Airlift.

I wasn’t sure what aircraft my dad was in in these photos,  but now I know it is a DC-4.

My dad passed away when I was 17.  As a punk kid,  I had no interest in history,  so I never ever asked him about his time in the Air Force.  Bummer,  since now I’m the president of a WWII museum (in the making).  Nice to get little glimpses into the past now,  since I missed my real opportunity to learn more.  Thank you Ron,  for sending me neat info like this.

Through this terrible sockeye season,  I had more hangar tours than fishing customers through the shop.  I had been hoping to get our DC-3 airworthy again in time for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day next June,  but it is looking like I’m about a year behind in doing that.  Oh well.  She is a D-Day survivor and deserves to be airborne for that.  Maybe the 76th instead…