News: Civilian aviators land at Atterbury
Story by Staff Sgt. David Bruce
EDINBURGH, Ind. — Himsel Army Airfield at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind. has seen a lot of air traffic over the years. Helicopters of various types, C-130 cargo aircraft, Marine Corps V-22 Osprey tilt-wing aircraft, even NATO member nation aircraft have graced the runway at Himsel. However, due to the restricted airspace around Camp Atterbury, civilian aviators had to give the installation a wide berth. That changed, at least temporarily, as over 20 civilian aircraft and one warbird landed at Himsel Army Airfield, Aug. 11, when Camp Atterbury hosted the first Warbird Salute to Soldiers Fly-in.
According to Maj. Dave Rader, aviation division chief at Camp Atterbury, the idea was to open up the airspace and allow civilian aviators the opportunity to fly in to Camp Atterbury.
“This is a community outreach event, said Rader. “We have a tremendous response as far as aircraft and people wanting to know what we do here. So, we got the required paperwork and waivers and got this underway. We tied in the veterans theme by getting a few warbirds in the state that agreed to fly in.”
Rader said that there were prior permission requests for 21 aircraft including one warbird to land at Camp Atterbury. He said this event gives these pilots a glimpse of the activities occurring on the installation that they might otherwise be unaware of.
“We have a huge restricted airspace, so any aviator that’s flying, civilian-wise, had to circumnavigate this. It’s a tremendous expense as far as money and time. We’re inviting them in to see what we’re doing; we’re training soldiers, getting them ready for combat and the contingencies around the world and why we need this airspace. They can see things going on here and we’re not putting this airspace up as an impediment but as a necessity.”
Warbirds are vintage military aircraft maintained and flown by civilian aviators. According to Rader, they are a significant investment to maintain as spare parts are increasingly difficult to obtain and in some cases those replacement parts must be fabricated.
Four warbirds were scheduled to land, but due to maintenance issues, only one landed at Camp Atterbury. It was a T-6G Texan flown by Larry Jacoby, of Noblesville, Ind.
“The T-6 was built by North American in Inglewood, Calif. in 1942,” said Jacoby. “This particular plane was converted into a G model in 1949, which was a complete restoration. The airplane went into the Spanish Air Force, where it served for 12-14 years to train fighter pilots. They sent it back here in the early ‘90s.”
Jacoby said that nearly all American fighter pilots during World War II were trained using the T-6 and it was used to train Navy and Army Air Force aviators.
"We have airplanes like this to show and we like people to look at them,” said Jacoby. “We consider ourselves as people who maintain these relics for a period of time and when we’re through, someone else will take care of them for a period of time.”
Jacoby, who has been a pilot for 45 years and is now semi-retired from being a flight instructor, heard of the event from Lt. Col. David Ellis, director of the Soldier Readiness Center at Camp Atterbury.
“Lt. Col. David Ellis is a close friend of mine. He works down here at Atterbury and he gave me an invite and sent me the papers. I’m glad to be here. There is a lot more activity here than I anticipated. I wasn’t expecting this many people at this time. It’s fun to land at an air base where we don’t normally get to land these things.”