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Every now and then the squadron would have to take a plane back to the States for overhaul. They would turn it in and get a new one to replace it. In March I got my chance to take one of the planes back. Frank DeBlanc, Hoyt Sloop and I plus a full crew were selected to go. We took a little longer leg going back and went into Miami instead of Jacksonville. I hadn’t flown with De prior to the trip back to the States and didn’t know him very well. He was a short, stocky southerner from Louisiana and had a real southern accent. He was fun to fly with and sang a lot at the top of his voice. Of course the engines were right above and behind us so it didn’t bother anybody. As we approached Miami, there was a large cumulus buildup between us and our destination. We could have gone around it but it appeared to me he was going right into it.

We were at 12,000 feet and it looked to me like it was at least twice that high. I kept thinking and hoping that he would turn, but no such luck. We hit it about half way up. It threw us all over the sky, and took both of us to keep the airplane right side up. The whole time he was singing. We finally broke out on the Miami side of the storm. The airplane was none the worse for wear, but I couldn’t. say the same for me. I found out not too long ago that De Blanc became a priest. I may have felt better if I had known he had some pull up there. We went on up the coast to Jacksonville and spent the night there. When we cleared out of there, the weather guesser told us there was a small fog bank off the coast but it would be no problem (must have meant for him).

When we hit that it was a strong front with ceilings right down to the water. We went down almost to the water to try to get under it, got down to about fifty feet. The waves were tremendous. We headed west til we hit land and went up the coast til we found a river delta. DeBlanc thought we were at Cherry Point, NC, but I had the chart and that didn’t look right. I finally figured we were at Wilmington, NC. There was an Army air base there so we called and asked for landing instructions. They told us the field was closed due to bad weather. We knew the weather was bad so we turned off our radio and went in and landed.

The weather was so bad we were there two days We did have an interesting experience there. The three of us were walking down a city street when a black cat ran out of a doorway in front of us. We all stopped and looked for a way around him, but he ran around us and went in a door behind us. We couldn’t avoid crossing his path. Hoyt Sloop said right there that he was not flying on with us and would meet us in Norfolk. He went on by train and we saw him when we got there. The rest of the trip was uneventful We got our new plane and went back down to Belem.




(C) Since 2007 -