Don Craddock Visits An Old Friend – The Flying Fortress

A couple of days ago, a small group of SJPA’s flew from Friday Harbor to Skagit Regional Airport for lunch. We were lucky enough to time our arrival to see two WWII Warbirds that were at the field.  A B-24 and a B-17 were there for a stopover on a nationwide Collings Foundation “Wings of Freedom” tour. They visit over 130 cities each year.

Our own Don Craddock is pictured here reminiscing about time he spent as a twenty year-old co-pilot of a B17 – just like the one pictured here. It is one of only ten B-17s still flying in the United States. He flew 35 missions over Germany in 1944. Like it was yesterday, Don recited that he flew with the 8th Air Force, 390th Bombardment Group, and the 369th Squadron. He told me that he flew missions over Berlin, Hamburg, and other German cities. Enemy fighters including Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs were ever present on his missions.

Don started this heroic effort just three weeks after marrying Betty Jane. Don and Betty Jane are a familiar site around our SJPA gatherings. Thanks to both of you for your service and bravery.

Don standing by the B-17.

Don standing by the B-17.

Don looking on as the engines start. I'll bet there's a flood of memories going through his head.

Don looking on as the engines start. I’ll bet there’s a flood of memories going through his head.

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About Darryl Swenson

I am a private pilot and amateur photographer. I live in Friday Harbor, Washington. My airplane is a Flight Design CTLS and I keep it in a hangar in Friday Harbor. My flying has taken me up and down the West Coast USA. I am enchanted by the islands and mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and the allure of deserts and mountains of the Southwest keep drawing me back to the Four Corners area.
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