Douglas holds annual reunion for cadets - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Douglas holds annual reunion for cadets

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COFFEE COUNTY, GA (WALB) -

World War Two pilots are preparing to journey back to Douglas where they trained for battle 70-years ago.

Cadets from the 63rd Army Air Forces Flight Training Detachment will meet for an annual reunion next week.

A week of events are planned for the veterans and their families.

The PT-17 Stearman is getting spruced up before 13 veterans get to town for the World War II 63rd army air force flight training cadet detachment reunion.

"They also get a chance to take memorable flights up in the PT 17's and AT 6 planes which they learned to fly during that time," says Georgia Henderson, Central Services Director.

It is just one of the many things planned for the veterans and their families.

During World War II, the Raymond Richardson Aviation Company, established the 63rd Army Air Force Flight Training Pilot School to train cadets to fly and give them hands-on experiences.

The base is located in the Gene Chambers Douglas Municipal Airport and is one of the most intact World War II civilian primary flying training centers in the United States.

"It is good to see the smile on their faces, when they come back to their old home place," says Arnold Parsons, American Legion Post 18.

Many of the buildings, the field, and hangars are the same as they were during World War II.

"They were cadets they actually came and lived on base here in Douglas, there are several buildings still intact," says Henderson.

The instructor barracks are now home to the World War II Flight Training Museum and exhibits artifacts from the 63rd's training days.

"They love it and it just really carries them back, it is fun to walk behind them and listen to them tell your stories," says Vic Suttles, 63rd Preservation Society.

"It is really easy to find yourself getting caught up in the stories, even shedding tears and laughs along with them as they reminisce," says Henderson.

But with everything that has been preserved, one of the most exciting things for the veterans is to see how the city of Douglas has changed over the years.

On Tuesday, the community is invited to tour two Blackhawk helicopters from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and witness the veteran pilots take flights in PT-17s and AT-6 planes.

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