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  • May 13, 2021, 03:03:17 PM

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Offline Frank Imbriaco

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  • At the 69 Willow Grove NATS with J.D. FALCON II
Several months ago, while organizing and cleaning the shop area in the basement, I came upon some old photos of the 1969 Pensacola trip for the Willow Grove, Pa. JUNIOR and SENIOR NATS WINNERS.( I plan to make it a priority to scan and post them at a later date.)
Stopped everything I was doing and rewound the tape in my mind. Here I was, just 1 year and a few  months shy of that experience some 50 years ago.
-The call  home, telling Mom that I won and was eligible for the trip. She was very worried, not knowing the details and all.  For that matter,neither did I .
-The "group"- Juniors and Seniors from all over the country, free- flight, ukie , R/C and indoor winners along with  adult chaperones- assembled to hear the details of a three day trip to Pensacola NAS.
-The moment I  first saw the four -engine NAVY TRANSPORT- PROP Driven, canvas seats the entire length of the fuse. Shades of the "Duke"( John Wayne)
-The noisy 5 hour flight at altitudes under 10,000 feet. The cabin wasn't pressurized. Had to near yell to be heard.
- NAS Pensacola- our digs were actually quite good- much, much better than the barracks at Willow Grove.
-The daily events scheduled for us- Touring classes attended by pilots in training, a demo of the "Diddly Dunker" (spelling? pronunciation ??) This machine replicated what a pilot would experience had he crashed in a body of water.
- The emergency fire apparatus demo- in case of a crash, the response drill. Demo fire and response was pretty neat.
- Swimming  at an in ground pool at  the officer's club.
-The outdoor  buffet lunch and dinners. Great food.
-The ride in PT boats- shades of JFK. Unfortunately, aircraft carrier USS Lexington was under repair and we couldn't fly on the deck like  previous winners.
- The long flight back to Willow Grove - heavy rain much of the way.
- All of us  having to leave the canvas and move  to mid- fuse for the landing. The transport -no doubt tail heavy.
- Mom, Dad and kid sister there to greet me at  Willow Grove for the ride back home in NJ. Mom damn near died when she saw what I flew on.
- many more...

I hope there are some Juniors and Seniors out there who will respond to this  and share their memories and experiences.
 Now that we're senior citizens and still able to recall.

Just so appreciative of the things this hobby afforded us back then !

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