Three World War II fighter aces will recount their stories of combat over the skies of Europe, China and the South Pacific during the Wings of Dreams Air Show at Florida’s Keystone Heights Airport (42J) on Feb. 20.
The Florida Friends of the American Fighter Aces Association, an organization formed to promote the history of Fighter Aces of all wars, will co-host a symposium and a “meet and greet” autograph session starting at 1 p.m. in the main hangar, in conjunction with the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum’s weekend event to promote World War II and aviation history.
Symposium panelists include Lt. Col. Donald S. Bryan of the 352nd Fighter Group, who flew the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang in combat over the skies of Europe, scoring 13.33 victories in aerial battles against the German Luftwaffe.He also was one of the few U.S. Army Air Corps pilots to shoot down a German jet, the twin-engine Arado 234. Bryan flew with some of the top P-51 Mustang Aces of World War II, including George “Ratsy” Preddy, with 26.83 confirmed aerial victories and the 6th leading Ace of the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Fighter Ace Panelist Lt. Col. A.T. House scored the first confirmed aerial victory for the famed 49th Fighter Group, which was the highest scoring World War II Fighter Group. House scored all five of his aerial victories in the P-40 Warhawk in the South Pacific theatre. One of his victories was achieved by ramming a Japanese Zero off the tail of his commanding officer’s P-40 during their first aerial battle over Horn Island in the Torres Strait. He managed to regain control of his P-40, which was on fire and missing a third of his starboard wing section, and land back at his base on his 5th attempt.
Lt. Col. John Bolyard of the 23rd Fighter Group under the command of Tex Hill also will appear on the panel. Bolyard scored all five of his aerial victories in the P-51C Mustang over China in 1944. Bolyard is believed to have shot down one of the leading Japanese Aces of World War II over China in 1944.
The event will be moderated by Dr. Gregg P. Wagner, president of the Florida friends of the American Fighter Aces Association.
The Wings of Dreams Air Show, slated for Feb. 19-22, also will host WASP, Iwo Jima Commemoration and World War II Combat Airmen symposiums.
For more information: WingsOfDreams.org