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Taking wing
Air Festival brings history down to earth
new slt fly-in outside flying museum
Here is an exterior view of the AC-47. The plane is often called by its nickname, "Spooky."

A museum landed at the Great Bend Municipal Airport last week.

The American Flight Museum is a Vietnam war-era AC-47 gunship, preserved and flown by a dedicated crew of volunteers based in Topeka. This gunship, which also goes by the names "Puff" and "Spooky," can be seen today at the Great Bend Municipal Airport Air Festival and Fly-in. This is the third and final day for the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As people walked through the museum Saturday, boys and girls peered out of gun ports or through the cockpit windows. Robert Rice from the American Flight Museum shared information about the plane, a side-firing aerial gunship that provided a close air support in defense of ground positions and pre-planned strikes. Usually it went on night missions. From 1964 to 1969, these gunships defended 3,926 hamlets, outposts and forts. No outpost or village under AC-47’s protection was ever lost to the enemy.

Everything from World War II aircraft to modern jets and homemade airplanes can be seen at the airport today. Admission is free, but attendees may also purchase plane rides, souvenirs and concessions. For a $2 donation, you can walk through the AC-47.

Another featured plane is the 1943 Beechcraft MOD-18 C-45 "Expeditor," a World War II military plane from Oklahoma City’s Cimmaron Strip Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force.

The CAF’s Jayhawk Wing, based in Wichita, brought its two World War II planes, a Cessna UC-78 "Bobcat" twin engine airplane, and a Fairchild PT-23. The UC-78 was manufactured in Wichita and was used for multi-engine training and utility transport during the war years.

Spectators can also catch remote-control aircraft in action at the fly-in. These models can reportedly reach speeds of up to 200 mph.