Move of ‘Shoo Shoo Baby’ may take seven years

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …

***

“Shoo Shoo Baby” may be spending quite a few more years in storage.

Last week’s column related the story of the World War II-era bomber that was restored by the 512th Airlift Wing in Dover.

Shoo Shoo Baby had a home at the National Museum of the Air Force in Ohio until the more famous “Memphis Belle” took its place. Shoo Shoo Baby was rolled into storage, awaiting a move to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum at Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

Through two sources, we have now learned it could be about seven years before Shoo Shoo Baby is on display.

Emmett Venett, who was project officer in charge of the restoration when he was Deputy Commander for Maintenance in the 512th Airlift Wing, sent this editor a message last week after reading this column and said he would check into it.

Within a few days, he learned that Udvar-Hazy Center’s massive revitalization project would hold up the move.

A Smithsonian public affairs staffer also sent a brief message back to this editor that said, “The B-17 Shoo Shoo Baby is scheduled to be transferred to the museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in 2024.”

We hear there’s a moratorium in place on moving aircraft there during the $650 million project. The center’s website said all 23 of its galleries would be renovated.

***

Mr. Venett shared some of the backstory of Shoo Shoo Baby, a B-17G, in his email last weekend.

It dates back to the late 1970s.

“Mike Leister came to me along with another crew chief, Dana Lakeman, and wanted to do the restoration,” Mr. Venett wrote. “The two friends had visited the Museum at Dayton and knew of the restoration backlog. They had been given a list of several candidates, including President Truman’s airplane, the Sacred Cow. But, somehow Shoo, Shoo Baby grabbed our attention because of its combat record.

“I thought, since we didn’t own any airplanes — in an Associate Wing, that this project would enhance pride in our unit and help us with recruiting. I found an auspice to do the project under an Air Force Regulation that permitted Community Action endeavors for public information purposes. And so, I wrote a plan and got the project approved. (If I had known it was going to be a 10-year project, I might have thought better of it.)”

The parts and pieces of Shoo Shoo Baby were picked up and returned to Dover in July 1978.

“Colonel Dave Weber, the 512th Wing Commander, piloted a C-5 on a training mission,” said Mr. Vennett. “I remember sitting in the jump seat as we went off to pick up Shoo Shoo. At Wright Patterson, we found the airplane in boxes covered with bird droppings from its long storage in warehousing. The airplane had been donated from France, its last home after WWII.

“The recovery team sent from Germany to truck it for return home couldn’t get the airplane wings under the highway bridges. So, they cut the wings lengthwise to reduce its size. That became a major challenge to Shoo Shoo’s restoration.

“I was so proud when we flew it, fully restored to Wright Patterson and on to the Museum (in October 1988).”

Shoo Shoo Baby’s restoration led to the start of the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base. In 2016, the Delaware State News published a 30th anniversary section on the museum. Mr. Leister was its director through 2016.

***

Delaware history buffs will be interested in the Tuesday, June 12, program at the Friends of the John Dickinson Mansion annual meeting.

The program will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the plantation on Kitts Hummock Road, Dover.

The event will include remarks from Gov. John Carney and celebrate publication of “Delaware’s John Dickinson: the Constant Watchman of Liberty.”

The book coincides with the 250th anniversary of the publication of John Dickinson’s “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies.”

“While not a formal biography, the book does look at Dickinson’s whole life and career,” said Dick Carter of the Heritage Commission in a recent email to this editor. “It is centered around a collection of talks given to the Friends group over the last 60 plus years by various noted Dickinson scholars and eminent Delawareans.

“It is tied together with pieces from retired News Journal editor John Sweeney, who has become quite a Dickinson scholar in his retirement,” added Mr. Carter.

Mr. Sweeney was editor of the book. Mr. Carter was the designer.

***

Well, fiddledeedee.

This editor spelled that word correctly in the online test available on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website. However, the word fit my reaction when I learned I scored a 23 out of 28 in the preliminaries — not good enough to advance in the online test or with the real spellers in the finals of the national bee. Spellers needed perfect scores.

Try it yourself at http://spellingbee.com/take-test. It is difficult.

Congratulations to 12-year-old Sahil Langote, Delaware’s representative. The P. S. du Pont Middle School student made it to the third round. The word “lenten” tripped him up.

Karthik Nemmani, 14, of McKinney, Texas, was the bee champion. He was awarded the trophy after correctly spelling “koinonia” in Round 18.

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.