Tag Archives: Airplanes

2021 Mid-Eastern Road Trip Part 6

29 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 6 – 7/17/2021

Leaving Harrisburg this morning I headed northeast 35 miles on I-81 to visit the Golden Age Air Museum located in Bethel, PA.  This museum consists of three hangers and displays 14 beautifully restored, and flyable, antique airplanes dating from 1916 to 1990, plus a dozen more planes on static display.

Photo credit:Bill Lites

Now it was another 35 miles northeast on I-81 to where I visited the Mid-America Air Museum located adjacent to the Reading Regional Airport in Reading, PA.  This museum displays over 100 aircraft, many of which are flyable.  I was looking forward to visiting this museum as they are in the process of restoring a very rare Northrop P-61B (42-39445) Black Widow night fighter to flight status.  Since i attended Northrop University, the P-61 has been one of my favorite WWII airplanes.  I am hoping to see the miracle of one of these famous airplanes back in the air again in my lifetime, and it looks like MAAM is the outfit to make that happen.

Photo credit:Bill Lites

From the Reading Regional Airport, it was only a few miles to the Reading Area Firefighters Museum.  Located on the site of the original 1854 Reading fire house, this museum’s collection of firefighting equipment and memorabilia dates from the early 1800s. 

Now I took US-222 out of Reading about 15 miles northeast to visit the Kutztown History Museum located in the 1892 school building in downtown Kutztown, PA.  This museum displays local artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of Kutztown and the surrounding Berks County area dating from as early as 1799.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

From Kutztown I continued on US-222 another 30 miles northeast to visit the America on Wheels Museum located in Allentown, PA.  This museum is situated in a renovated 1887 building and is laid out with three main galleries where some 75 beautifully restored antique cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles are on display.  Their Hubcap Café (restored 1950s soda fountain) is part of the museum’s decor and open to the public for snacks and beverages.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

While I was in Allentown, it was only a few blocks to where I could visit the RB Classic Car Collection.  This facility is owned and operated by brothers, Al and Alex Ruozzi, who have dedicated their lives to buying, restoring, selling, and servicing Classic Cars from every era.  Currently their inventory includes vehicles from the 1930s to 1960s,

Photo credit: Bill Lites

I had planned to visit the Mack Truck Historical Museum there in Allentown, and replace my worn-out ‘Mack’ baseball cap, but they were closed.  That was a Bummer!  So, I just headed north out of Allentown on I-475 about 75 miles to visit the Steamtown National Historic Site located in Scranton, PA.  This 62-acre site is the former Scranton railroad yards and displays restored steam & diesel driven trains in the 1902 Roundhouse and on the central turntable.  The History Museum displays other artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the Scranton Yards “Where the Great Roads Meet.”

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Sharing the parking lot with the Steamtown National Historic Site is the Electric City Trolley Museum, which is a collection of 20+ restored electric trolleys, used in the Scranton and the Lackawanna County  area, dating from 1899 to 1941.  The John Oliver model train set inside  the museum is amazing.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Leaving Scranton, I headed north 50 miles on I-81 with a stop, just over the border, at the Visitors Center in Kirkwood, NY.  The drive thru the Pocono Mountains was beautiful and you can see the remnants of those mountains in the background of the picture below.

Photo credit: Bill Lites

Then it was another 50 miles north on I-81 to where I visited the Cortland NY Living Center located in Cortland, NY.  This complex includes the Brockway Truck Collection, the Homeville Museum, and the Tractors of Yesteryear collection.  The artifacts and memorabilia included in each of these collections is the history of Cortland County New York from Civil War days to the present.

Now I continued 35 miles north on I-81 to visit the Erie Canal Museum located in Syracuse, NY.  This museum is housed in the 1850 Syracuse Weighlock Building that served as the weighlock toll building for boats using the Erie Canal from 1850 to 1883 when boat tolls were no longer required.

Now it was time to find the motel there in Syracuse and get checked in.  After I got settled in my motel room, I went in search of something good to eat.  I ended up at the Basil Leaf Italian Ristorante, where I enjoyed their Baked Lasagna with warm Italian bread.  Delightful!

—–To Be Continued—-

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 64 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

My Southwest Adventure~Part 3

6 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

IMG_0110_1726

One of the surprises I had while in the West Texas area was to see several operating “Drive-in Theaters” open for business.  One was a large two-sided affair and one was in the middle of an1 oil field, with working oil pumps outside the parking area on three sides.  I guess those Texas oil people don’t let anything slow down getting that “Black Gold” out of the ground.  The other thing was how flat West Texas is, and how there is nothing to stop the wind, which blows dust and tumble weeds across many of the hiways.

Then there is the Texas Hiway Loop System.  Anyway, that’s what I called it.  Most of the major Hiways and Interstates that run thru the larger cities, have a frontage road running along 2either side of the hiway or Interstate, with entrance and exit lanes at intervals.  Then at the next crossroad, there is a “Loop” lane, which allows you to access businesses on the other side of the main Hiway or Interstate.  I guess they set that system up to reduce the number of overpasses they had to build in that flat part of the state.  Anyway, It was a real challenge for me when I first encountered the system, but once I got the hang of it, I found it fairly manageable.  Of course, it didn’t confuse “Greta” my Garmin road helper, as she spouted out directions like; “…continue .8 miles, then take ramp on left to I-35East North…” Or “…in .5 miles, keep right on I-35East South…” Or “…in .6 miles keep left on Texas 12 loop East to I-20 West…” I’m just glad I had her with me for all that.  What a lifesaver she was!

Wednesday I headed North, stopping in Slaton, TX to visit the Texas Air Museum, on my way to Lubbock, TX to check out the Silent Wings Glider Museum.  DiVoran’s uncle was a glider pilot in WWII and I was interested in finding out all I could about the different types of gliders used 3during that conflict.  Also, the C-47 “TICO Bell” at the VAC Warbird Museum in Titusville, Florida where I am a tour guide one day a week, towed gliders and dropped  paratroopers in support of the D-Day Normandy invasion, and survived the many hazards it and its crew encountered on that famous day in history.

That night at the motel, while I was making out my itinerary for the next day, several workers gathered around their trucks, outside the room next to mine.  They were playing loud Latino music, laughing and having a good time. I was hoping that wasn’t going to go on all night, but then they settled down by about  8:30 and soon quieted down altogether.  But then, one of the group started singing softly to himself, the same chorus over and over.  I liked his voice, and it put me in mind of the days before TV, when people would gather in the evenings to entertain themselves by singing.

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                                                            —–To Be Continued—–

My Southwest Adventure Part~1

23 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill

The main reason for this trip was to attend the CAF AirPower Expo in Addison, Texas, where “FIFI”, the only flying B-29 in the world and her CAF 1companion B-24, “Diamond Lil”, were to be featured, along with a varity of other WWII Warbirds.  I had seen static B-24 and B-29 displays at museums, but this would be a special treat to see these famous WWII Warbirds fly.  Then after that experience, I planned to complete an 11-day, 2660-mile circuit of aviation museums and other attractions in Central/West Texas and New Mexico.

I knew I was headed for Texas, because on the first leg of my flight to Austin, Texas I sat next to an older couple who were dressed in western togs.  The man was holding his 10-gallon hat in his lap the whole trip, because he couldn’t wear it and lean back in his seat.  I didn’t pay much attention to that until we got ready to disembark in Austin, at which time 2he and his wife kept taking things out of his hat; like her watch and hair comb, and his glasses and billfold.  Now I knew cowboys used their hats on the trail, to give their horses a drink of water, but I never thought about how convenient those big hats would be to carry things in!  Then I arrived at the Dallas airport, many of the people were dressed in their western clothes and boots, and I saw this 10-gallon hat display used as a window decoration for a restaurant.  The next thing I noticed, after obtaining my rental car was the Geico billboard sign, with the Gecko wearing a 10-gallon hat.  Yep, I was in Texas for sure!

The next day, at the CAF AirPower Expo, as advertised, “FIFI” and “Diamond Lil” thrilled the crowd and gave us all a sense of being a part of the past, that few people of the modern generation can appreciate.  The many other WWII Warbirds participating in the Expo made for a special day for me to remember.  Being trained as an Airframe & Engine mechanic in college, I still love the sights, sounds and smells of the round-engine propeller airplanes from the 1930s-1950s era.

One of the most memorable things for me at the Expo was meeting Bob Searden, who was part of the 507th Airborne Infantry Regiment, parachuting into Normandy in the early hours of D-Day.  Bob was all decked out in his jump uniform, metals, and even a pair of jump boots.  I was privileged to have my picture taken with Bob, who I consider a real WWII hero.  Check out Bob’s memoir To D-Day and Backwhich chronicles his experiences on D-Day and his subsequent capture and life as a POW.

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——To Be Continued——

 

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