A new poem from our resident Wordsmith, Ken Hanson.
Chuck Accurso, a tour guide at Texas
Air and Space Museum, standing in front of our historic DC-3 number
Me A Home
My story began in nineteen forty five,
Near the end of world war two,
If youíll permit me a moment of your time,
Iíd like to tell it to you.
I served in the navy for about twelve years,
Flying supplies around after the war,
Taking soldiers home who had done their time,
To resume the life they had before.
Itís been said though not officially,
I flew the Berlin airlift for about a year,
Helping oppressed people survive,
In the democracy we hold so dear.
After my navy stint I worked civil service,
Doing flight inspections for the F A A,
I was replaced by others younger and faster,
A job that continues to this day.
At age 40 I flew in air shows 10 years,
Helping recruit those eager young men,
The next generation to carry on a tradition,
Started long ago and ending who knows when.
In my 60ís I had yet another career,
Helping celebrate the centennial of flight,
Showing everyone just how far weíve come,
Especially the children, much to their delight.
Iím retired now after many years of service,
As my seventh decade draws near,
Iím not used to having nothing to do,
After such a long and honorable career.
Like a lot of vets, I lived in government housing,
But it got too crowded with no room for me,
The decision was made to find me a new home,
Wherever that might be.
I feared I would go to Davis-Monthan,
A place old planes go to die,
They chop off their wings and turn Ďem to scrap,
Itís enough to make you cry.
Those that are sent there have no choice,
Decisions are made, they have no voice,
Thatís not the end I wanted, for you see,
This tired old veteran is a Douglas DC-3!
N34 is the name they gave me,
During my time at the F A A,
Youíd think after all these years,
There would be a place for me to stay.
Turns out someone does want me,
I can make it there if I really try,
The Texas Air and Space Museum,
In Amarillo, where itís warm and dry.
Thatís where my last flight took me,
A cool and crisp February day,
Nestled into a cozy warm hangar,
A good place to be on display.
I have a new job now in my new home,
One I can do for quite awhile,
I teach the children a lesson in history,
My pencil sharpener makes them smile.
Proud old veterans come to see me,
Sometimes with a tear in their eye,
They struggle uphill into my cockpit,
And look out the window seventeen feet high.
I bring back memories of their years of service,
Back when they were strong young men,
They may have bad knees and a cane,
But I can make them feel young again!
I share my new home with several others,
Short Fuse Sallee just an aileron away,
A shiny silver P51 Mustang,
Another proud veteran here on display.
A Bell 47 chopper is over by the wall,
On loan from the college maintenance school,
Bobby Speedís Beercat is here too,
His Reno airspeed record is pretty cool.
Thereís a fighter jet engine on a stand,
A hot air balloon thatís seen better days,
Four radial aircraft piston engines,
That make most interesting displays.
Thereís two more planes outside of the hangar,
That we donít have room for in here,
They are hot or cold or windblown or rained on,
Depending on the time of year.
Thereís a De Havilland C7 Caribou transport,
Carrying men and supplies in the Viet Nam war,
And N946NA, a shuttle training aircraft,
Rare and unique, one of only four.
This Gulfstream G2 had an important mission,
Training astronauts how to come back home,
Rick Husband flew this plane the most,
A local boy made good, one of Amarilloís own.
No amount of training would have made a difference,
When the shuttle came apart that day,
And seven brave astronauts, NASAís best,
Lost their lives in that dramatic and tragic way.
Commander Rick Husband was in the left seat,
When he and his crew lost their lives,
Our airport is now named in his honor,
We mourn alongside their children and wives.
A plane like the shuttle trainer shouldnít be outside,
It deserves a home in the hangar too,
But itís big and weíre already crowded,
Thereís only room for a few.
But our museum people are working on that,
We have a new home near runway four,
You could call it a real fixer upper,
Our small fleet will have room for many more.
The property used to be a grain elevator,
With eight large buildings on the site,
Grain storage buildings will make great hangars,
The location is perfect for a museum of flight.
Thirty eight thousand square feet in each,
Just one will give us a permanent home,
Our rented hangar space is OK for now,
But we need something we can call our own.
These buildings held grain for sixty years.
But moisture rusted out the metal skin,
Holes in the walls welcome mice and birds,
Those in the roof let rainwater in.
A new metal skin, insulation, and fire-proofing,
And a new airplane size hangar door,
Everything is so expensive these days,
Estimates say a million or more.
The donations we get as a non-profit museum,
Just barely pay our bills it seems,
We need corporate or private help,
If we are to realize our dreams.
Maybe a retired military aviator with the means,
Would like his name on a hangar someday,
You canít take it with you when youíre gone,
Let us carry on your name in a meaningful way.
We need a person that needs a tax write-off,
Or a million people with a dollar to spare,
Change from your meal would mean a great deal,
We know there are people out there who care.
Please build me a home, thatís all that I ask,
Help the ones here first, and those who came after me
All I can give you is the everlasting gratitude,
Of this tired but grateful old DC3.
Ken Hanson can
frequently be found at the Texas Air and Space Museum where he is a
much requested tour guide.