Aurora, Ore. — For World War II veteran Earl Holcomb, this is a reunion seven decades in the making.
Mr. Holcomb piloted 20 missions over Nazi Germany. He had his share of close calls, like the time he almost passed out at the controls. Holcomb said, “We’re at 31,000 feet and all the while things weren’t nice anymore. Oh, I had unplugged my oxygen haha. Suddenly everything was rotten.”
He made it through the war and went on to have a family. Now all these years later, he’s getting the chance to show them what he went through.
After a quick safety briefing, he boarded the plane. His granddaughter had his back as he got in, part of a family effort to honor their patriarch. Once the pilots were ready, the flying fortress took to the air just like it did all those years ago.
The amazing men who flew these planes on real missions over Nazi Germany were at 31,000 feet, with temperatures ranging from -40 to -30 degrees. Susan Heyward, Holcomb’s daughter said, “He’s never been so cold. He said it was like flying in a coke can, there was just nothing there.
Mr. Holcomb’s daughter is forever thankful to the Experimental Aircraft Association for restoring and maintaining a priceless piece of history. She said, “What we wouldn’t give to have been able to interview Abe Lincoln in the office on video or Teddy or whoever and we have this opportunity now before the door closes on their lives.”
As for Earl Holcomb, he’s thinking about dusting off his wings and giving it another go. “Oh I could do it, yeah I could do it. It’s like riding a bicycle you never forget that.”
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