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Day Trips

Museum honors World War II glider pilots

By Gerald E. McLeod, Fri., June 28, 2013

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

The Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock remembers the men who flew plywood gliders into the teeth of the German war machine during World War II. The pilots wore insignias on their uniforms with wings extending from a G in a circle that they proudly claimed stood for "guts."

The museum is in what, in 1950, was Lubbock's new air terminal. Between 1943 and 1945, nearly 80% of the military's glider pilots were trained here at what was the South Plains Army Airfield. Of the 6,000 pilots who entered combat, 40% were killed or sustained serious injuries. Gliders participated in some of the biggest campaigns, including D-Day and the invasions of the Netherlands and the Philippines.

The centerpiece of the museum is a rare Waco CG-4A glider. Built by an offshoot of the Weaver Aircraft Company of Troy, Ohio, the engineless airplanes were made of wood and fabric over a metal frame with an 84-foot wingspan and a 50-foot fuselage. It could silently carry a dozen combat-ready soldiers, a jeep, or a small artillery piece on a one-way trip behind enemy lines.

The Silent Wings Museum is in north Lubbock off I-27, just past the entrance to the current airport. The exhibits cover many aspects of military history, including film footage of the gliders in action. For more information, go to www.silentwingsmuseum.com or call 806/775-2047. The museum is closed on Mondays.

1,143rd in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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