Have you ever heard the roar of an Allison engine just a few hundred feet over your head? I have. When I was a kid I got dragged to every local airshow that was within reach of my family. My dad and hence my brother and I were all aviation enthusiasts. We loved the war planes the best. Big, aluminum birds that roared over our heads so loud it made our bones rattle. Nothing was cooler than a formation of such planes thundering over head in perfect formation.
This morning I was sitting at my laptop, editing a short story and I got distracted by a low flying airplane outside. I thought it was pretty low on the first pass. Then it came around again and was even louder. The memory of those airshows came flooding back as my coffee cup rattled on the table. I bolted out my back door, the kids timidly following.
Looking up I saw it approaching, it’s wings wagging at someone on the ground as it turned hard at full throttle. It was a low flying Curtis P-40, one of my favorite fighter planes from WWII. As it got closer, you could hear it’s rumbling power. I waved the kids out into the cold, backyard grass to stare up at the warbird as it passed directly over our house. The Doppler shift was clear and loud over our heads as it passed. Adrenaline pumped me up as I waved and shouted up at the living ghost from the past. The kids laughed and shouted with me, it was most assuredly not their first time hearing a P-40, but it was the first time we had heard it over our own back yard.
They quickly went back inside, for it was cold and the grass was near freezing. But I stood there and watched the plane tear off into the distance over the city of Boise. The early rays of morning sun glinted off the camouflaged wings. I was thrilled and appreciative of the chance to relive my own childhood and a piece of history that I hope never disappears.
The plane belongs to the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa and was probably getting a regular test flight. Why it was circling the airspace in the BOI airport landing pattern, I have no idea, but I for one, was very glad it did. The plane I saw was the P-40E dressed in North African colors of the RAF.
Just a bit of history for you – this was the British unit that inspired the AVG or the Flying Tigers to paint shark’s teeth on the noses of their P-40s in China.