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Sun, Jan 11, 2009

Barnstormer Tour Raising Funds To Bring Soldiers' Remains Home

Take A Ride In A Stearman Or T-6 For A Worthy Cause

Non-profit group History Flight has embarked on its 2009 Barnstormer Tour of the nation's east coast, starting out in southern Florida and working their way to Vermont by this summer.

You get your hands on the controls in the tax-deductible flights, ranging from 15-minute introductory excursions to hour-long aerobatic flights, available in your choice of a T-6 Texan or a Stearman Biplane.

History Flight is offering the program in an attempt to raise $90,000, funding for a two-year search for the remains of soldiers who were killed in action on Pacific atolls during World War II.

Last year, History Flight founder Mark Noah and his team visited Tarawa atoll, 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. Successfully locating the graves of 139 Marines, Noah wants to return the remains of the servicemen to the US for a more suitable interment.

"It's not like these are graveyards that are out there with crosses on them," Noah said. "It's just unbelievable to think that all those people are underneath the ground there." He said the locations were not fit to be resting places of war heroes, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Harry Morris, 69, a semi-retired architect, was ecstatic after his recent hour-long flight in History Flight's T-6. "It was wonderful. Absolutely stellar. That was quite a thrill - to do all sorts of acrobatics," he said.

As his father was a former B-29 pilot, Morris was especially happy to participate and sympathetic to Noah's efforts. "Searching for missing personnel from World War II is a [difficult task] and I am glad to take part in an effort to help out that cause," he said.

Marathon-based History Flight is giving rides at the Palm Beach County Park Airport (LNA) near Lantana this weekend, and at various Florida locations through February before moving the tour northward.

FMI: www.historyflight.com

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