Warbirds Showcase Experiences ‘Not Going to be Around Forever’ - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Warbirds Showcase Experiences ‘Not Going to be Around Forever’

Warbirds Showcase: Marylander Thomas Dembeck shows off his "Lift List" before boarding the TBM Avenger "Doris Mae" at the 2021 Commemorative Air Force Warbirds Showcase in Frederick, MD. (credit Anthony C. Hayes/BPE)

Thomas Dembeck hoists his “Lift List” before his “Torpedo Mission” aboard a TBM Avenger at the 2021 Commemorative Air Force Warbirds Showcase in Frederick, MD. (credit Anthony C. Hayes)

FREDERICK, MD — It’s always interesting to consider the subtle differences between the sexes. Take last weekend’s Commemorative Air Force Warbirds Showcase in Frederick, Maryland. A casual look around the crowd revealed scores of women smiling brightly – enjoying a day out with family and friends, and the sight of several gleaming warbirds.

As for the men – every single one of them seemed to be grinning from ear-to-ear.

Granted, this anthropological observation may puzzle some. But it certainly underscores the unabashed joy of the many father’s who arrived at the airport and were surprised to find that they had been gifted a unique flight experience by a lot of those smiling wives and daughters.

Octogenarian Kenneth Krach was gifted a Warbirds Showcase ride in the Stinson L-5 Sentinal “Gayle Ann.”

Kenneth Krach after his flight aboard the Stinson L-5 Sentinel "Gayle Ann" at the 2021 Commemorative Air Force Warbirds Showcase in Frederick, MD. (credit Anthony C. Hayes/BPE)

Kenneth Krach (credit Anthony C. Hayes/BPE)

“I’ve always wanted to get on one of those planes,” said Krach. “I live right by Martin State Airport (near Baltimore) so I’ve been around planes all of my life. I grew up in Middle River and actually belong to the Martin Aviation Museum. It’s just something I always wanted to do.”

We asked Krach if he’d ever been in the military?

“Well, no, but the last time I was in a plane was back in the summer of 1956. That was when I was in ROTC.”

What did he think of the Warbirds Showcase experience?

“I loved it. My daughter actually bought me the experience and it was great.”

Would Kenneth do it again?

“Oh, hell yeah! Excuse my language.”

Waiting at the gate for her beaming father was Kenneth Krach’s daughter Cindi Scott. We asked Scott how she found out about the Father’s Day flights?

“We’ve seen the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) at Martin State Airport, which is by where we grew up in Middle River,” explained Scott. “I still live five miles from there. My dad is right on the water, and the planes fly over our houses all the time.

“About six months ago, the CAF was up to the Martin Aviation Museum for something and when I went to their website and saw they offered these Warbirds Showcase rides, I was like, ‘Well that would make two awesome Father’s Day gifts’. So, my husband is up in the air now, my Dad is back down on the ground, and the siblings are all texting me to ask if Dad had his flight yet and to send pictures.”

Kenneth Krach settles in for his Father’s Day ride in the Stinson L-5 Sentinel “Gayle Ann” at the 2021 Commemorative Air Force Warbirds Showcase in Frederick, MD. (credit Anthony C. Hayes/BPE)

It should go without saying that gifting Dad a warbird ride is better than buying him another paisley tie. But there were also plenty of walk-ups in Frederick – both men and women – with an itch for a novel adventure.

By the close of the event, the three CAF airplanes on hand had flown 58 excursions and accommodated 72 exhilarated riders.

One New Jersey man – who’d made an entire weekend of his trip to Frederick – accounted for three of those 72 rides.

Frederick resident Wyatt Baseley told us he didn’t have any military experience, but that he’s, “been an aviation enthusiast since I was able to look up at the sky and realize that something is flying up there.”

Frederick resident Wyatt Baseley after his flight aboard the TBM Avenger “Doris Mae.”
(credit Anthony C. Hayes/BPE)

“I grew up in this area. I’d watch the planes in the flight line three miles away, so I’m used to the traffic around the Frederick airport. It’s awesome when the warbirds come out here.”

We asked Baseley if Sunday’s adventure aboard the General Motors TBM Avenger was a Father’s Day treat?

“It is! Actually, my dad (Doug Baseley) flew in the previous flight, so I figured if he’s gonna go up, I’ll pay for him, and – being an aviation buff – I’m going to go up too.

“It’s interesting anytime any of the warbirds are out here in Frederick. Sometimes, it’s a B-17 or B-24, but it’s always a neat thing to come out here and see them. We used to come to all of the air shows they did here many, many years ago, but we’re just excited to see the history here today.”

Are future warbird flights something Baseley could see as bucket-list items?

“I could definitely see myself doing that. I’m just building my list out now,” he said.

Joining Baseley on his Avenger flight was Marylander Thomas Dembeck. Dembeck (whose family gifted him a coveted “Torpedo Mission“) told us he was well into in the process of completing his own warbirds bucket list.

“This is my fourth warbird flight. The first one was the B-17 “Nine-0-Nine.” I did that one when I was in Carroll for the air show. I did the P-40 American Dream at Reading in 2019. I did the B-29 “Fifi” in Reading two weeks ago as another free gift.”

Dembeck told us his TBM flight was a Father’s Day gift from my kids, “Because I was excited about flying in an Avenger.

“This is a similar plane that George Bush flew in during his wartime scenario.

“It’s got a lot of historical significance for me, in that — given its size and its structure — it’s just an amazing aircraft. It’s really fascinating. I have an aerospace engineering degree so I’m an aviation expert / semi-expert in the background. And I do a lot of work for the Civil Air Patrol. So this flight is just adding to my aviation experiences. It was a great opportunity.”

A view from the rear of the TBM Avenger “Doris Mae” at the 2021 Commemorative Air Force Warbirds Showcase in Frederick, MD. (credit Anthony C. Hayes/BPE)

Dembeck said before putting the Avenger through it’s paces, his pilot (Peter Hague) did a couple of practice maneuvers in order to make sure that he and fellow passenger Wyatt Baseley were okay with the high banks, the turns, and the altitude changes they’d be executing on their flight.

“We got to our target off the Potomac, found our marks, lined up our target, and then we went in. The pilot was doing a lot of maneuvering. We were changing course and altitude, so that added a level of realism into the simulation. Now, the pilot has put that as part of his lessons plan, because it’s not really advertised. I’m surprised. It’s like, ‘Well wait a minute, we’re flying over here but the target is over there. We got to correct and things of that nature.’ So, this was not a point A to point B flight by any means.

“You really have to do it – if you want to do it – while you’re capable of doing it. Especially when you get older. You know, it’s a lot of climbing to be able to get in and out of the plane. I’ve got arthritis, so it’s hard for me to bend to get in the planes. But it was well worth the time and effort for the experience.

“Warbirds like this have been around for over 75-80 years. But they have a time span, like the rest of us, and it’s going to come a time when an aircraft like this is just not going to be available for the public to fly in. There will be static displays of them around the country, but to actually get in and experience what our parents or our grandparents experienced during the 1940s? Those flight experiences are not going to be around forever. So one of the selling points is that I’m getting old… the planes are getting old.

“There are just things that you have to do, and this happens to be one of them. I’m getting this off the bucket list.”

You’d be right if guessed that Dembeck’s family was all smiles when they gathered by the plane to pose for pictures.

As for Thomas Dembeck?

He was grinning from ear-to-ear.

Reenactor Dimitry Madsen talks shop with Navy Veteran Norm Birzer at the 2021 Commemorative Air Force Warbirds Showcase in Frederick, MD. (credit Anthony C. Hayes/BPE)

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About the author

Anthony C. Hayes

Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, raconteur, rapscallion and bon vivant. A one-time newsboy for the Evening Sun and professional presence at the Washington Herald, Tony's poetry, photography, humor, and prose have also been featured in Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore!, Destination Maryland, Magic Octopus Magazine, Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Voice of Baltimore, SmartCEO, Alvarez Fiction, and Tales of Blood and Roses. If you notice that his work has been purloined, please let him know. As the Good Book says, "Thou shalt not steal." Contact the author.
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