OCEAN CITY, Md. - One of the great things about working in the field that we do is that every once in a while you get to experience things that otherwise you wouldn't get to. Flying with the Geico Skytypers was one of those things.
For me the connection with the planes they fly goes beyond just the amazing experience. It brought me a little closer to one of my family members that's no longer with us My Great-Uncle Morton, who flew in B-25 bombers during World War 2. My great-uncle was a bombardier who flew 52 combat missions in B-25's in the Mediterranean theater. He was awarded a medal of valor among other honors for his service.
The planes the Geico Skytypers fly are SNJ's as the Navy called them or T-6's as they're more commonly known as. Flying them I'm told is a homage to the brave men like my great-uncle and those he served with because these were the planes our flyboys learned to navigate the skies in before they saw action.
"It's the intermediate trainer, you would learn instrument flying, formation basic fighter tactics, if you were going to go to a bomber perhaps gunning position or navigation," said Skytyper pilot Chris Thomas.
I learned from them the chances were high the T-6 was the same plane my great-uncle most likely learned to fly-in before he joined the Army Air Forces.
"Most certainly he flew this airplane," Thomas said,. "There were a couple of special programs where these weren't used but by in large if you said he was a pilot in World War 2, you can pretty much assume he flew the SNJ."
My great-uncle Morton unfortunately passed away when I was just 7 years-old, but we were close our relationship closer to a grandpa and grandson than great-uncle to great-nephew. The stories he didn't get to tell me about his time flying were relayed to me through his wife my dear Great-Aunt Danielle, who passed many years after him.
So for me flying with the cockpit open in the back of a T-6 allowed me the rare opportunity to spend just a few more moments with him. As we flew in formation pulling maneuvers he most likely learned I was allowed a glimpse into his life and that of so many others who served. Something the Geico Skytypers get to do every time they take flight.
"You're flying a piece of history, you're telling the story of the world's greatest generation. You're doing something that's amazing to watch and hundreds of thousands of people are watching you tell that story and help get that message out," Thomson said.
So to the Geico Skytypers I said thank you for the amazing experience after you took me up, but what you gave me was so much more. So truly, thank you for giving me just a little bit more time with my family.
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