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Requiem for an Aircraft, Farewell to a Pilot


"Requiem" drew favorable comment and many personal recollections from other readers. We are sharing these here, with permission of the authors.

November 24, 2007


While researching a project, (RR Merlin) I happened upon your site, and Dave Norton’s contribution brought waves of old emotions back to me.

To: Alex Forbes
Re: Dave Norton's B-29, (2001)

It was a hot summer morning in 1996 near Gainesville, Florida. Two friends and I had just finished breakfast and were sipping iced tea in the backyard. The heat and humidity were literally oppressive. Robert and I were both military brats during the post war occupation of Japan, but we discovered a common bond that morning:

In the distance came a strangely familiar sound of four big props at a pretty steep pitch. Mike said “what the hell is that?”, and Robert and I looked at each other with our jaws agape. Within several seconds the unmistakable exhaust noise of four Wright double Cyclones overtook the prop's low pressure sonic profile, unforgettable once you have heard it.

Robert and I were both looking skyward, covered in goose bumps, tears streaming down our faces. Mike was still saying “What the hell is it?” just as the multi windowed nose of a B-29 at around 5000 ft. was coming into view. All Robert and I could say in choked voices was, “history that must never be forgotten”.

I believe this was the Confederate Air Forces B-29, en route to an air show in Orlando, which I also believe was lost in a hanger fire a year later, I have no idea if any airworthy B-29's exist today.

Carl N.


I just read your article about your Uncle Clyde and the B-39 (B-29) . I could hear the roar of the motor in my heart when it took off with you and Dan standing there. Your Uncle was a true Hero, I feel a true Hero just does his job and doesn't want recognition. I give my thanks also to your Uncle.

I knew a girl years ago who's father was in Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, he had hit her so hard when she was little that she had a long scar on the right cheek from top to bottom. She said, he was one of the personnel that didn't sound the alert when the planes started coming and he carried the guilt to his grave.



From: [Ron]
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2001 10:19 PM
To: [DNorton]
Subject: Re: B-29

Dear Dave:

Thank you for sending this wonderful story. It is so beautifully written and only a truly enthusiastic patriot could write such an article.

The romance of these machines is truly a dichotomy, and for some, they represent a horror and mans cruelty to man. This is probably why, in retrospect, they were so readily destroyed after a war that was to be forgotten as soon as possible.

Fortunately as things have turned out, we shall never forget this war. Now the W.W. II memorial being built in Washington DC, will help preserve the memory and sacrifice.

To us, however, and I am sure for some who flew them in the war, the sight, sounds and smells of these magnificent flying machines will always remain an intriguing part of us that never dies.

These machines represent one of man's incredible mechanical achievements during a time of need and survival. The men who flew them will always be our heroes.

I lived those years as a young boy and I wish I could write as well as you and put down the impressions of life during those times.

Your friend, Ron

P.S. The R3350 has 18 cylinders, & the Corncob 4360, has 28 cylinders.

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