I didn’t realize that while attending Oshkosh this year, I missed one of the great stories of Airventure. Bill Patillo and Buck Patillo , both retired army general officers, were reunited with their WWII airplanes at Airventure. For Buck, it was the first time he had seen his airplane in 64 years.
When he arrived at the airplane, a silence came over the crowd and everyone backed away to give him time and space. He was very quiet, and at first would touch just the wing and the drop tank…I encouraged Buck to stand up next to the nose of his airplane and touch it. He did that, and when he turned back to face the crowd, the cameras and flash bulbs came alive. It was a special moment.
Bill and Buck are twins. Both are highly decorated with combat tours in WWII and Vietnam. Bill was actually shot down flying a P-51 and became a POW until the end of the war. During the Vietnam conflict Bill flew the 230 combat missions in the F-100 and Buck completed 120 in the F-104. As if this wasn’t enough, they helped organize the United States Air Force Aerial Demonstration Team, which eventually became the “Thunderbirds”. The photos and story are here. (Thanks go out to Chance for a great write up) . Remarkable men who helped define the greatest generation.
Take it from me. Identical twin pilots are cool.