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September 24, 2018

Sandra Scott Travels: Take Off In A Piece Of World War II History


Last week I asked: Where can you book a flight on a World War II C-47?

At the Yankee Air Museum in Ann Arbor.

Yankee Lady

Yankee Lady

John and I discovered many wonderful surprises when we visited Ann Arbor, Michigan.

John was thrilled when he found out that he could fly in a World War II C-47.

At the Yankee Air Museum, he learned about Michigan’s contribution to aviation history.

The airport is situated on property that was also the site of the Ford Motor Company’s Willow Run Bomber Plant that built 8,685 B-24 Liberator bombers.

At its peak it was the largest industrial facility (one mile in length and about a half mile wide) in the world at the time.

“Rosie the Riveter”

“Rosie the Riveter”

Also it was the first aircraft manufacturing complex to use Ford’s automotive mass production method, employing more than 42,000 people and produced a B-24 every 55 minutes.

It was dubbed the “The Arsenal of Democracy.”

The C-47 Skytrain, “The Yankee Doodle Dandy,” was similar to the civilian DC-3.

It was fitted with a cargo door, a strengthened floor, a tailcone for glider-towing shackles and an astrodome cabin roof.

It was the workhorse used by many countries during World War II to transport troops, cargo and wounded.

Making Motawi Tiles

Making Motawi Tiles

The C-47 was instrumental in the success of most of the campaigns of World War II airlifting supplies in Burma, flying “The Hump,” and later used in the Berlin Airlift.

He toured the museum and met “Rosie the Riveter,” one of the many women who took the place of men who were off to war.

“Rosie” headed the campaign to encourage women to enter the workforce.

The morning was foggy so John was afraid that the flight would not happen.

Just as they were about to cancel the flight the fog lifted and he boarded the plane.

Nawal Motawi

Nawal Motawi

He was strapped in on the bench with his back to the wall, just like the World War II paratroopers, while the historical interpreter, Tony Pequeno, pointed out the details of the plane and demonstrated the slide cable used by the jumpers.

John said he would not be afraid to jump, but not while the enemy was shooting at him.

The plane took off and wasn’t as noisy as anticipated and flew smoothly over the area.

An incredible experience.

Now John would like to return to take a similar ride on a B-25 and/or a B-17.

Historical interpreter, Tony Pequeno

Historical interpreter, Tony Pequeno

While John was flying I had an incredible experience of my own.

I took the Motawi Tiles free tour that is offered every Thursday at 11 a.m.

I immediately recognized the tiles that were Frank Lloyd Wright and Tiffany inspired but what caught my attention were the Charley Harper’s cardinals.

I am now the owner of one.

All the tiles have the clean simple lines that draw their inspiration from the Arts and Craft movement.

During the tour there were people at each station of production to explain their function.

I was most impressed with the ladies who were “bulb” painting the tiles.

A display of Motawi Tiles

A display of Motawi Tiles

Motawi makes about 1,000 tiles a day but it takes five days for a tile to be completed.

For me the highlight occurred at the end of the tour.

I got to make my own tile.

When I finished creating the tile, Motawi fired it and then mailed it to me.

Awesome.

The owner, Nawal Motawi, stopped by.

She likes to “make pretty things that affect the lives of others.”

I would say that she has succeeded.

C-47 flights and Motawi tiles are excellent gift ideas.

Trivia Tease™: What are Fairy Doors?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!

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