Saturday, February 4, 2023

WEAU’s Leeann Stapleton takes flight in World War II era plane


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – The excitement is literally in the air for the Chippewa Valley Air Show.

There are aircraft of all types at this year’s air show, including some from World War II.

I, Leeann Stapleton, had the chance to take flight Friday morning in one of those WWII planes.

Even though WWII ended in 1945, there are still some aircrafts from the era that remain.

Like the Vultee BT-13 Valiant, with only a few dozen left that are in flying condition.

I may be known for my fear of heights and flying, but that didn’t stop me from accepting a spot on board a BT-13.

I suited up and took flight with the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing volunteer pilot Jordan Deters.

With a shared passion for WWII history, It was an amazing feeling to not only talk about history with Deters, but fly through the sky in history.

The flight gave me a new perspective of the world, a birds-eye view as the saying goes.

The BT-13 is no fighter jet but Deters made sure I experienced what the G-force felt like, and I’ll tell you 2-G’s were more than enough.

Deters also offered to let me take control of the flight.

I briefly, and I mean briefly, lived my dream of being a pilot.

The whole experience gave me a new outlook on what WWII pilots felt as they trained for war.

Granted I didn’t have to dodge bullets, but I have gained an enhanced appreciation for the men and women who flew the skies in the past, the one’s in the present, and the one’s yet to come.

Being able to open the canopy and feel the wind on my face in the sky will stick with me for years to come.

Who knows, if given the chance again, I might be willing to soar in the sky one more time.

Gates for the Chippewa Valley Air Show open at 8:30 am on June 4th and June 5th. The air shows start at 12:30 pm and the Blue Angels take off at 3 pm.

There will also be static displays of various planes to view throughout the day like the BT-13 I took flight in.

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