Tag Archives: Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum

My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 6A

23 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 6 – Sunday July 28

As I started south on US-41 this morning, I crossed the Menominee River again, thru Marinette, and on south another 10 miles, where I crossed the Peshtigo River just before  stopping to visit  the Fire Museum in Peshtigo, WI.  I was intrigued to discover that the museum’s main function is to honor those 2000+ men, women, and children who perished in the October 8, 1871 fire, that wiped out the entire town of Peshtigo.  The church building that houses the museum is the restored Congregational Church that was move to this site in 1927, and became the museum in 1963.  Ironically, this terrible disaster happened on the very same day as the Great Chicago Fire (October 8, 1871).

I continued south another 45 miles on US-41/US-141 to visit The Automobile Gallery located in Green Bay, WI.  This museum displays some 80+ beautifully restored cars, of all makes and models, which have been selected by the owners of the museum for their artistic value to the automobile enthusiast. 

 The cars on display range from a 1912 Maxwell to a 2016 Shelby Hertz Edition Mustang.

While I was in the Green Bay area, I visited the National Railroad Museum just a few miles south, located in Ashwaubenon, WI.  This is a large museum, dedicated to preserving the nation’s railroad history from the 1820s.  The museum is filled with railroad displays, memorabilia, and artifacts dating from the 1920s.  The museum also has a huge collection of historic steam locomotives and other rare and vintage rolling stock.  Visitors can take a 25-minute ride around the property in a vintage train car (included in admission price), while the conductor describes the daily activities at the maintenance and restoration shops, and includes hobo cultural history.  Special tickets are also available to the various train ride events throughout the year. 

After this interesting visit, I headed southwest about 50 miles on I-41.  I had planned to visit the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, WI but had not realized that the week of July 22-28 was the week of their annual airshow this year.  I was not about to try to elbow my way thru thousands of people to see that museum.  Don’t get me wrong.  The EAA Museum is an outstanding museum, but I had visited their museum several years ago, and didn’t think I would be missing much by not going again today.   However, as luck would have it, just as I was passing the EAA Campground, the CAF’s Boeing B-29 Superfortress “FIFI” was taking off over the interstate right in front of me.  What a unexpected thrill that was, to see that aircraft flying that low!

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As a side note; I found out after I got home, that Tom Reilly had finished the 12-year restoration of his XP-82 Twin Mustang, and won the Grand Champion: Post WWII award at the 2019 EAA AirVenture airshow.  I was sorry I had missed seeing that wonderful warbird flying.  However, that magnificent flying machine is now on display at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in Titusville, FL where I volunteer as a tour guide.  That allows me to see it up close any time I want.

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—–This day’s activities will be continued next week—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 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~1

23 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


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.




——To Be Continued——


I was a 12 Year Old Businessman-Part 2

30 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

It was like the difference between night and day to move from LA, a hugh city within an area consisting of almost 500 square miles of asphalt and concrete, to say nothing of the massive traffic problems there, to a small town with a 1960 census population of only 4000.



The non-stopped work at the Kennedy Space Center to land men on the moon only lasted until 1970.  Not long after NASA and its many contractors had successfully completed this monumental accomplishment, the American public lost interest in space, manned space program funds were cut, and NASA started laying off contractors as the Apollo Program started spinning down.


At age 35, I was one of the last engineers at Rockwell International to be laid off in 1973, and since DiVoran and I didn’t want to return to LA, and there were no engineering job to be had in the immediate area, I worked and studied the construction business to obtain my General Contractors license.   I built houses full time for two years until I landed a job with Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. on the Trident Submarine Missile program.


For the next four years, I worked full time assembling and launching the Trident C4 submarine missile at Cape Canaveral, while building houses in my spare time.


When that series of launches was completed, I was laid off by LMSC and went to work for McDonnell-Douglas who was launching communication satellites from Cape Canaveral using their Delta Launch vehicles.


Then in 1979, I was recalled by LMSC to work on another series of the new Trident D5 submarine missiles launches, again at Cape Canaveral.


In 1987, after that series of launches was completed, I transferred to the NASA Space Shuttle program with Lockheed Space Operations Co. at the Kennedy Space Center.  I retired in 1996 with a total of 35 years as what I called an “Aerospace Nomad” having worked for eight different companies during my career in the U.S. aerospace community.

7jpg DiVoran and I enjoy our retirement, while living in the same house we bought new in 1965.  We stay so busy with the fun things in our lives now that I sometimes wonder how I ever found the time to go to work.  I am involved in the R/C model airplane hobby, and do volunteer work with a local Car Care Ministry, and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum at the TICO Airport here in Titusville.


DiVoran is realizing several of her lifelong dreams as she uses her God given talents with her painting and novel writing.  We both are enjoying having our extended family near us so we can spend quality time with them as often as possible.


DiVoran and I are looking forward to many more years of life together, filled with the fun and adventures that only God, family and friends can give us.




Proverbs 5:18 (NIV) 





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