SPOTLIGHT VIDEO: Air Force Reservist Enables 96-Year-Old World War II Veteran To Fly Again
By J.M. Eddins Jr. // November 27, 2017
SPACE COAST DAILY TV SPECIAL PRESENTATION
ABOVE VIDEO: Air Force Reserve First Sergeant David Brown and 96-year-old World War II veteran Al Tucker started a friendship centered around a 70-year-old biplane. These two Airmen share their stories about how this aircraft shaped their merging destinies. (Pete Ising video)
In the summer of 2008, on a lush grass field in Bealeton, Virginia, Sue Tucker Brander approached the blue and yellow plane of her new friend, civilian pilot and Air Force Reservist David Brown. In her hand was a framed black and white photograph.
The photo showed a young man wearing a leather helmet and goggles in the rear cockpit of a biplane, his head down performing his preflight checks. At the bottom of the frame was written “Al Tucker, First Solo -1942.”
Brander pointed to Brown’s plane and said, “You know, my Daddy used to fly a plane just like that.”
David Brown had been enthralled with airplanes since he was a kid in the 1960s and 70s being driven around Fauquier County, Virginia in his parents’ Buick LeSabre. He cannot remember a time when he was not dreaming of following his father into the U.S. Air Force and becoming a pilot.
However, the aircraft that originally lifted his head into the clouds were not sleek jet fighters making vertical takeoffs in full afterburner or even the airliners he saw arriving or departing from nearby Dulles International Airport.
The plane that flew overhead was a PT-17 Stearman.
For Tucker, the biplane would be a steppingstone to fighter-jock glory, but he too was destined to loop back to where he began.
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