Keeping an eyes on the skies in Dover

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …

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As mentioned here before, one of the joys of working at the Delaware State News is our regular chance to watch planes flying in and around Dover Air Force Base.

We haven’t had a long string of days with blue skies lately, so it’s even more fun when the sun is out.

A few weeks ago, “Air Force One” as it known when the president is aboard, was here doing touch-and-go training.

On Thursday, a C-17 flying above the base and near our office caught the eye of this editor. It turns out that it was the “fini-flight” of Col. Ethan Griffin, outgoing commander of the 436th Airlift Wing.

There is a fun video on the Dover Air Force Base Facebook page of Col. Griffin and the flight team after landing. Base fire trucks were there to create an arch of water for the C-17 to pass under.

As has been the case with fini flights since the end of World War II, family and friends showered him with water after he came down the ladder.

During Col. Griffin’s two years at the base, Team Dover’s accomplishments included hosting an open house, featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, above the newly completed $120 million runway renovations.

A guest commentary and farewell to Team Dover from Col. Griffin appears on Page 6 of today’s edition.

He is on his way to Travis Air Force Base for the next phase of his career.

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For readers in the area who loved the open house and air show at Dover Air Force Base last summer, you might want to head to Ocean City, Maryland, in a few weeks.

From the beach, you can watch the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds June 16-17.

It is one of the team’s first shows since a flight training accident that killed pilot Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno in April. He was a newcomer to the Thunderbirds and not among the pilots in Dover last summer.

Team Dover will be represented in Ocean City. The lineup includes the C-5M Super Galaxy and the C-17 Globemaster III.

The air show promoters are also hyping the appearance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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On May 17, a curtain dropped at the National Museum of the Air Force to reveal the newly restored Memphis Belle — 75 years after its final mission.

The B-17F bomber completed 25 combat flights over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.

After its wartime service, it was used for a bond publicity tour and later became the subject of two films.

The pin-up girl was repainted on both sides of its nose during the 13-year project to bring the “Flying Fortress” back to life. At the museum, it is suspended above the floor with its bomb bay doors open.

Of significance to Dover is that it now occupies the space that belonged to “Shoo Shoo Baby” — the B-17 bomber that led to the start of the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base.

Shoo Shoo Baby was a restoration project taken on by the 512th Airlift Wing in Dover.

In bad shape, it was towed under a helicopter to Dover. Once restored, it made its final flight to the national museum in Dover under its own power.

After being pulled out of the museum in Dayton, Ohio, Shoo Shoo Baby was placed in storage.

A new firefighter sculpture now stands on the southeast corner of Legislative Mall. A dedication ceremony for the firefighters memorial will take place June 10. (Delaware State News photo by Andrew West)

A spokesman at the National Museum of the Air Force told this editor Thursday that it will be sent to the National Air and Space Museum at Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. However, there is no known timetable for move.

“It’s whenever the National Air and Space Museum would like to move it,” said Rob Bardua of the National Museum of the Air Force.

There’s no doubt that many people from Dover will take a sentimental journey to see Shoo Shoo Baby in her new home.

The National Air and Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian group. So far, we’ve had no luck getting a phone call back from that staff.

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In late April, we reported on the move of the Delaware Fire Service Memorial Monument from the banks of Mirror Lake to the southeast corner of Legislative Mall.

Without much fanfare to date, the 22,000-pound obelisk now rests between black memorial walls with the names of firefighters from Kent and Sussex on one side and Wilmington and New Castle County on the other.

The memorial area also includes a tall sculpture of a firefighter, in full gear and holding an axe.

We have learned from the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association that there will be a dedication ceremony on Sunday, June 10.

The firefighter memorial had been at Mirror Lake since 1971.

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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