Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Sitting in My Old Man's Seat

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...
Ordinarily, I try not to fly on airplanes older than I am.

But this is different.

This will be the highlight of my summer.

I'm going to fly on "Fifi," the last airborne B-29 Superfortress from World War II.  (The U.S. built 4,000 of the heavy bombers, mostly to attack Japan).  You can read all about "Fifi" here.

I'll be sitting in the navigator's seat, which is quite meaningful to me.  My father, Lt. Stanley Levine, was a navigator on a B-29 based on Tinian.   His plane, the "Nip Clipper," was shot down in August 1945, and my father and nine other surviving crew members (the pilot died when his chute didn't open) were prisoners of war for a short but harrowing time.
"Fifi" will be one of the star attractions at the Rocky Mountain Air Show outside Denver next month.  (A Stealth bomber plus several other vintage aircraft will also be featured).  I wish my father were still alive to take the flight with me.  (That's him at the far left in the back row).
This, by the way, is the view from the bombardier's seat in the glass nose of the aircraft.  The view, that is, if they were going to bomb Midland, Texas.
(Regardless of my feelings about Rick Perry, I'm against that idea).
Finally, in case you missed my "Pulp Friction" podcast interview of our very own Jackie Winspear, you can hear it here...after a 20-second ad.  This Sunday, at 8 pm Eastern, I'll be interviewing funny man and TV writer Carmen Finestra ("Home Improvement" "The Cosby Show").  You can listen -- and call in -- here.


  1. The flight sounds like a great adventure and a touching tip of the hat to your dad.

  2. Ahhh..that was an era. We haven't had that kind of battle clarity for a long, long time.

  3. from Jacqueline

    I am rocked with envy. What an experience! On my personal wish-list - even though I am a bad flier when it comes to your average Boeing 747 (and now, 777 or other modern 'plane), I have always wanted to fly in a Lancaster Bomber. Just a short run, and then down again, on the ground, in a controlled landing. Here's to your Dad, Paul - have a great flight!

  4. Thank you one and all.

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  6. I just look at that pic of his crew and see quite the eclectic group for the segregated military of WWII. The officer dead center in the back row doesn't quite fit the model of Clark Gable in 'Test Pilot' and that 'tall drink of water' on the far right looks too tall to be a flyer. But just surviving a bail out then a Japanese Reception Committee in 1945 must have been quite a tale to tell for your father. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Amazing! Surviving a shoot-down, a bail out, then a Japanese Reception Committee in 1945. And that crew photo! What an eclectic looking group for the segregated Air Corps of WWII. The officer dead center in the back row would never be mistaken for Clark Gable in 'Test Pilot' and that 'Tall Drink of Water' on the far right looks too tall to be a flyer. Your father must have had quite a tale to tell indeed. Thanks for sharing.