Tag Archives: Virg Hemphill

A Short Video Up Date On The Chinese Navy’s War Readiness

   Virg Hemphill

Thanks once again to our very alert Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill (at left), we bring you this insightful recruiting video of how the Chinese Navy stands battle-ready at the present time.

This is not a comparative video, but primarily a view of what the Chinese are up to at the moment.  Unfortunately, this degree of readiness for war requires that the U.S. react in kind, in order to maintain a balance of arms and general military preparedness.

The exceptional degree of high-caliber Chinese precision, coupled with their extreme level of teamwork and surprisingly high degree synchronous formations within their military ranks, as seen in this video, should certainly keep us alert in respect to their capacity, if not readiness, for effective warfare.

While part of what helped the U.S. prevail against both the Japanese and Germans during WWII was our superior equipment, it was also our exceptionally smooth teamwork, particularly among our pilots in their capacity fo fly as efficient fighting teams – – – in highly coordinated formation flights – – –  that led to our overwhelming success.

Clearly, the Chinese have not only learned from our skilled and superior military, naval, and aviation technology – and techniques – but they may have even surpassed us in regard to such military dynamics as in their smooth unified team movements, as is witnessed in their below formations – – and in their impressively sharp mass drill skills.

Also, one cannot help but notice the astounding similarity their aircraft, surface and underwater vessels have to some of our own war weaponry.  Have the Chinese actually, literally,  copied some of our military equipment designs?

CAP Squadron Commander, Natalie Franc, Briefs Daedalians

Major Natalie Franc, a native of Glenhrothes, Scotland, is the current commanding officer of the El Paso, TX Civil Air Patrol (CAP) “Composite” Squadron. As distinguished from a regular squadron, a Composite Squadron includes a CAP Cadet Corps, along with its Senior Members.

Natalie began her career with the CAP when living in Hawaii after having been in the Royal Air Force (RAF), in which she enlisted when 18 years old, after having first served, since she was 13, in the Air Training Corps of Great Britain.  In the RAF she was assigned to Intelligence, where she used her skills as a linguist with a fluency in the Russian Language.

When on active duty with the RAF she met and married her husband, Michael, who was also in the Intelligence branch of the U. S. Army.  When he was transferred back to the U.S. in 2002, she moved there with him.  Before finally settling in El Paso, Texas, Natalie had lived in Maryland, Hawaii, Arizona, and Germany.  As a civilian, in addition to her work with the CAP, she has worked in various capacities in Emergency Services and has been a volunteer with Army Family Programs and has also been an Armed Forces Caseworker.  Natalie now runs her own business in El Paso.

The Major showed a custom prepared Power Point slide show to the Daedalian Flight members, who are also members of the FASF.  The following photographs of this event are all in high-resolution, and can be seen full-size by simply clicking on them as they appear below.

L to R: Major Natalie Franc, Colonels Mario Campos and Bob Pitt.

L to R: FASF Aviation News Scout, Virgil Hemphill, Colonels Norman Rice (back to camera) and Alan Fisher. Colonel Fisher is also an active volunteer pilot for the Las Cruces, NM Squadron of the CAP.

L to R: Mark Pfluger, Active Duty Army Rotary Wing Pilot from Ft. Bliss’ Biggs Army Airfield, and his mentor, Flight Captain, Roger Nichols.

L to R: Maj. Franc, Col. Campos and his wife, Judy, Julie and Col. Bob Pitt, Retired USAF Colonels, Melissa and Alan Fisher, Virg Hemphill and Roger Springstead (USNR Ret.) Anselmo Rocha, Assistant to Col. Norman and Mrs. Ulla Rice, Jerry Dixon (USMC), Dave Ginn, Charlie Overstreet,  Jim Brandon, Col. Pete Brandon’s visiting brother, and just out of camera range to Pete’s left is his guest Skip Orrell.

Major Franc adjusts computer projector . . . as she explains that the CAP has the largest single-engined fleet of Cessna Aircraft in the world.  The powered aircraft total is about 560, and she reported that the CAP also owns 47 glider-sailplanes, which are used to train Cadet members, along with several Hot Air Balloons, which select Cadets are also taught to operate and fly.

The Major explains the National CAP organization’s composition . . . which inlcudes the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

In this set of slides, Major Franc gives some examples of the CAP role in Search and Rescue Operatrions (“SAR” Ops).

L to R: Melissa and Alan Fisher and Virg Hemphill listen to Maj. Franc explaining her El Paso TX CAP operation . . .

Here the CAP Commander explains the role of the CAP in disaster Relief Operations, noting her own squadron’s heavy involvement in Hurricane Harvey, which struck East Texas, in particular, the Houston area.

In this slide the Major explains that the CAP mission also includes other roles in addition to Search and Rescue and Disater Relief . . . pointing out that her squadron plays an important role in Border and National Air Space Security.

Here Natalie describes the numerouis mission qualifications in which CAP members work throughout the Squadrons.

And here she shows the Daedalians and their guests how the CAP stays in constant radio contact with its mission personnel and aircraft during operations . . .

Major Franc sums up her presentation and takes questions from the audience . . .

L to R: Major Franc and Flight Captain Roger Nichols study one of the slides shown during the presentation.

L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, Major Natalie Franc, Flight Captain Roger Nichols, and Colonel Campos, who invited the Major to make the presentation . . .

L to R: Flght Captain Nichols and newly inducted Daedalian, Dave Ginn, and Colonel Bob Pitt.

Mary Ellis, One of Britain’s WWII Ferry Pilots, Flies Into Sunset

Dateline Tuesday July 24, 2018 London UKMary Ellis (ne Wilkins) during WWII while on Flight Duty

Virg Hemphill

This story is thanks to FASF Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill (L)

One of the last few living British female World War II Ferry Service pilots, the legendary Mary Ellis, died peacefully at he home, at 101, on the Isle of Wight this past Tuesday evening, the 24th of July 2018.

Mrs. Ellis was a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) and delivered Spitfires and bombers to the front lines during the conflict.

She said she had flown “about 1,000 aeroplanes” during the war, before moving to the Isle of Wight in 1950 to take charge of Sandown Airport.

ATA secretary John Webster described Mrs. Ellis as an “amazing” person.

While she was commonly known as the last-surviving female pilot from the war, in fact there are three others.

Mr. Webster said that one, Eleanor Wadsworth, lives in Bury St Edmunds, another, Nancy Stratford, lives in the US and the other, Jaye Edwards, lives in Canada.


The above short (1:19) Video is of interview with Mary Ellis about her WWII experiences.

Mary Ellis, then Mary Wilkins, joined the ATA in 1941 after hearing an advertisement for women pilots on BBC radio.

She said at the time they were known as the “Glamour Girls”, adding: “There were plenty of escorts around.”

                             Just last year, Mary posed by a restored WII Spitfire, 400 of which she successfully ferried.

                                  Mary chats with Prime Minister, Teresa May at 10 Downing Street, London

  Mary Ellis outside 10 Downing St., where she visited with UK’s PM, Teresa May, in celebration of her 100th birthday.

                                                     Mary Wilkins (Ellis) in formal ATA Portrait in 1941.

The following Spitfire Video is 7:46 in length.  Make sure your sound is on for both videos.

And this second Spitfire action video (below) is 3:48.

A Moving Video Tribute: How You Say “Au Revoir” To An Icon

Virg Hemphill

Video: Air France: Credits : Airborne Films for Air France and the French Air Force and the Patrouille de FranceKeep you sound turned up to hear the video’s scoring The Video length is 3:30.

This impressive video was shot on January 27th, two years ago, when a dozen jewels of French aviation met over the Camargue region of France. Eleven Alphajets from the Patrouille de France (the Patrouille is the French equivalent to our Thunderbirds and Blue Angels Military Exhibition Teams – but is the world’s oldest such team) and the last Air France 747 flew in formation as a salute to the Boeing Icon’s last days with the airline.

On 14 January 2016, Air France offered customers a tribute flight over the country’s landmarks. The flight number as AF747. More than 45 years after the first flight from Paris to New York on 3 June 1970 the Company saluted the Jumbo Jet’s last flight in style with a business class lunch along with champagne for all.

Since the early seventies, the Boeing 747 has been a showcase of modern innovations and has revolutionized air transport. Air travel became more widespread and we entered an era of mass tourism. For cargo, the Boeing 747 had pressurized holds, which were ventilated and protected against fire. Four times larger than the previous generation of Boeing, the 707, they could carry 122 tons of cargo! On both of my trips from Montreal to the Paris Airshow I flew on the Air France Combi 747.

Air France was one of the first airlines to operate this aircraft, making it the flagship of its long-haul fleet: New York, Montreal, the French West Indies, Reunion, Asia … most of the Company’s destinations have been served by the Jumbo.

Air France says, “We started innovating from the early seventies. The role of chief purser was created to coordinate the service and attention paid to customers in this aircraft which could carry up to 500 passengers. Inflight cuisine was of great importance, with menus designed by great French chefs: Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenôtre and Pierre Troisgros. Finally, the cabin interior was designed by Pierre Gautier-Delaye, who paid particular attention to the comfort of the seat cushions and seatbacks.”


Remember: Next Time You Pass or Stop at Chicago’s Airport

Virg Hemphill

Chicago has two memorable stories, stories that seem to be very much unrelated, but . . . once again, Virg Hemphill reminds us on this MEMORIAL DAY, to stop and reflect about our nation’s amazing history.  Here are those two Chicago stories.  Both unique – – – and both the amazing truth.




Many Years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago.  Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic.  He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.”  He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason.  Eddie was very good!  In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well.. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.  For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day.  The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however.  He had a son that he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education.  Nothing was withheld.  Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong.  Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision.  Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al”Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity.  To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.  But he testified, anyway.

Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street.  But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own.  Live, love, toil with a will.  Place no faith in time.  For the clock may soon be still.”


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare.

He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier
Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission.  After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank.
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.  Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American-fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless.  He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet.  Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger.  There was only one thing to do.  He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes.  Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.  Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Undaunted, he continued the assault.  He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return.  The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale.  It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet.  He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.  This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.

A Year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.  His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare airport in
Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor.  It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’sson.

Official USN Photo of  young Lieutenant Butch O’Hare in cockpit of his Navy Fighter

Editor’s Note:  I was blessed to have been a guest among the official delegation at the actual Name Commissioning of O’Hare Airport back in 1949.  My father, a Navy vet himself,  had known young Eddie O’Hare during the early war years, and was the Navy official at the event, so he (thankfully) took his son along for the historic occasion. It was then that I first heard this amazing story, although related to me in a less dramatic form.  The official story, as told to the assembled crowd at the occasion, made no mention whatsoever about the hero’s father.  Of course, Chicago O’Hare field went on to become the world’s busiest airport and remains a major hub for much of the continental – and international – air traffic in the nation.

Can You Take a Little Over Five Minutes to Remember Them?

 Virg Hemphill

Once again, Virg Hemphill (at left), an Air Force veteran Pilot himself, suggests we take a few moments this weekend to stop and remember those who helped us enjoy the freedoms we tend to take so much for granted.

While this national holiday weekend we affectionately call, MEMORIAL DAY, often involves wonderful family and friend time outdoors, and also possibly joining other loved ones to watch main street downtown parades, or great sporting events, such as the INDY 500,* Virg thinks – and we at the FASF agree – that we should still find or make just a few minutes (his selected video below is precisely 5:34 minutes) to reflect; to remember those young men and women who gave so much that we might enjoy our unparalleled and so widely envied American liberties.

* Remember:  Eddie Rickenbacher, great American Fighter Pilot and WWI Ace, started his career racing cars, including at Indianapolis (he later became the famous “500” racetrack’s owner).  And who was it that gave him his first airplane ride?  None other than Glenn Curtiss, himself once the holder the world’s speed record on a motorcycle that he himself built.  Here, below, is a short video (3:53) taken at the Curtiss Museum, of their replica of the Curtiss V-8 engined motorcycle that he rode to such world fame. 

Glenn was born in Hammondsport, NY, in 1878.  Curtiss was gifted with insatiable curiosity, mechanical ability and great ambition.  As his remarkable achievements began to accumulate, this soon became evident. By the time he reached his teens, bicycles and speed had become a near-obsession with the young speed demon.

He was a champion bicycle racer for years,  but soon began to progress into designing and building his own motorized machines. By 1902, Curtiss, with three employees, was manufacturing his own motorcycles under the trade name, “Hercules“.

In a measured-mile run at Ormond Beach, Florida, on Jan. 23, 1907, Curtiss’ V8 powered motorcycle was officially clocked at 136.3 mph. On that day, and for years afterward, Glenn Curtiss carried the title, “Fastest Man on Earth“. The engine used in his record-setting motorcycle served as a prototype for what would later be used in the Curtiss Jenny airplanes, the very aircraft that lifted the First Aero Squadron into the skies over Mexico in 1916.


Hilarious Talk by AF Maj. Brian Shul (Ret.): “LA Speed Check”

Virg Hemphill

Thanks again to our Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill  (L), for this memorable video. This short 5:07 minute talk from the stage by former First Aero SR-71 Blackbird pilot, Brian Shul, entitled “LA Speed Check” is a real laugh generating piece of jet pilot “hangar talk” – – –  one that brings laughs from pilot audiences each and every time. While the talk is meant for a pilot audience, that fact doesn’t very much diminish the laughs generated each time the Major share’s his short story with non-pilots . . . Without further ado, let’s have his words bring some humorous guffaws back into being.

Maj. Brian Shul stands in front of his SR-71 Blackbird in his regular space suit.  Shul was an  injured  POW in Vietnam.

One of our Advisors was also a famous Blackbird pilot, as well as a Commander of the First Aero Squadron: General Patrick J. Halloran.

FASF Airfield Site Chairman Gives PP Show to Daedalians

Yesterday, at the El Paso Club in downtown El Paso, Texas, FASF Airfield Site Chairman, Bill Madden, of Las Cruces, NM, gave a special Power Point Presentation to the General Frank Nichols Daedalian Fight 24 monthly meeting. Almost 100% of the Flight are long time active FASF members.  Bill and his Airfield Site team have worked for years with their metal detectors and GPS gear scanning the Airfield in order to determine the correct place on the Field to erect our replicated 1916 Jenny Flight Line and its hangar facilities.  Without his team’s tireless efforts we’d have no idea of precisely where to locate the old Flight Line.  Click on any photo below to see it in full resolution/size.

Former US Military Pilots, L to R: Col. Norman Rice, Roger Springstead, Jerry Dixon, Col. Bob Pitt, and meeting’s Speaker, Bill Madden, FASF Airfield Site Chairman, choosing their meals for the luncheon event.

Bill Madden opens his presentation with a slide showing his motorized glider in front of his Las Cruces NM Hangar.

Screen has photo of (L to R) Mark Drexler, Bill Madden, and Fritz Wagoner, the 1916 Army Airfield Archeological Team, with their metal detecting gear in hand, posing right on the FAS 1916 historic Airfield.

Bill explains how the team has marked all of their findings on the Airfield Site’s Satellite Map. Artifacts are identified and color-coded based upon the type of remnant discovered.  The patterns will help determine the correct location for the replication of the old 1916 Airfield’s Flight Line (hangars and repair facilities).

Bill talks about the type of maintenance equipment the Army’s First Aero Squadron had to accomplish their work. The 4 wheel-drive truck shown has an engine hoist on its rear bed.  The FAS mechanics above are seen hoisting one of the Jenny’s Curtiss built OX-5 V-8 cylinder engines.

Bill wound up his presentation showing him airborne in his powered single seat glider.  He has owned and flown a number of general aviation class airplanes over the years and has actually personally built some of them.  Beside being a professional engineer, Bill is a licensed FAA Air-frame and Power Plant Mechanic.  Bill belongs to and has been an officer of the Las Cruces, NM EAA Chapter 555, and has also belonged to the famous EAA chapter 1, at the Flabob Airport in California.

After the meeting, Bill talked about his work with FASF Aviation News Scout and former USAF and Airline Pilot, Virg Hemphill at left.

Above, L to R, are Bill, Daedalians and FASF members, Ric Lambart, and Colonel Bob Pitt, who have just awarded Madden with his gift from the Flight, in appreciation for his having shared his time and expertise with them.

Experience the Thrill of Modern Day Barnstorming in Action

 Virg Hemphill

Here, thanks to FASF Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill (L), are two fun to watch video clips of the Czech Red Bull pilots showing off their dare-devil spirit in hair-raising stunts using their newest high powered Zivko Edge 540 aerobatic planes.  These first two videos will show you the views from both inside and outside the aircraft.  The third and last video will show you the Edge doing competitive maneuvers.

L to R above: Jan Rudzinskyj (left wing); Stanislav Cejka (leader), Miroslav Krejci (right wing); and Jan Tvrdik (slot).

Maximum discipline, focus, confidence and teamwork skills are the very essence of the success of the Flying Bull’s Aerobatic Team.  The pilots are often referred to as “aerial acrobats” and they cavort across the sky as though acting as a single entity, showing off routines that no other group in the world has yet proven capable of matching.  The below video is 2:32 long.

Below, is another exciting video clip of one of the Czech team members, Peter Besenyei, flying through a narrow canyon and under a number of bridges that span it.

Flying The Corinth Canal

Hungarian pilot Peter Besenyei gets an amazing opportunity to do some flying in the Corinth Canal in Greece and he takes full advantage of it. We’re not sure how the Red Bull Air Racing team managed to get permission to fly the canal but it makes for an awesome flying video that any pilot, or anyone, for that matter, should enjoy watching. This clip is 2:13 long.

The below video demonstrates competitive aerobatics by the Zivko Edge 540 and is 5:17 long.


The Day a Japanese Sub-Launched Aircraft Bombed Oregon

  Virg Hemphill

Thanks to our Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill (at left), we bring you this little known story first posted by Mr. Norm Goyer of Aircraft Market Place, but we have added the photos and additional historical information of interest. Before finding this story, Virg and your editor had only heard of the several mainland Japanese launched balloons which had made it all the way to Oregon, but not this relatively obscure event.

The Day Japan Bombed Oregon

September 9, 1942

Originally Posted on May 12, 2010 and authored  by: Norm Goyer of  Aircraft Market Place.


September 9, 1942, the I-25 B1 type Japanese submarine was cruising in an easterly direction raising its periscope occasionally as it neared the United States Coastline. The B1 type was the most numerous class of Japanese submarines.  They were fast, long-ranged, and carried a seaplane behind watertight doors, which could be launched on a forward catapult. 

Above: The only plane ever to drop a bomb on the United States during WWII was this submarine based “Glen.”

Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor less than a year ago and the Captain of the attack submarine knew that Americans were watching their coast line for ships and aircraft that might attack our country. Dawn was approaching; the first rays of the sun were flickering off the periscopes lens. Their mission; attack the west coast with incendiary bombs in hopes of starting a devastating forest fire. If this test run were successful, Japan had hopes of using their huge submarine fleet to attack the eastern end of the Panama Canal to slow down shipping from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Japanese Navy had a large number of I-400 submarines under construction. Each capable of carrying three aircraft. Pilot Chief Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and his crewman Petty Officer Shoji Okuda were making last minute checks of their charts making sure they matched those of the submarine’s navigator.

September 9, 1942: Nebraska forestry student Keith V. Johnson was on duty atop a forest fire lookout tower between Gold’s Beach and Brookings, Oregon. Keith had memorized the silhouettes of Japanese long distance bombers and those of our own aircraft. He felt confident that he could spot and identify, friend or foe, almost immediately. It was cold on the coast this September morning , and quiet. The residents of the area were still in bed or preparing to head for work. Lumber was a large part of the industry in Brookings, just a few miles north of the California Oregon state lines.

The Glen carried 2 incendiary 176 pound bombs and a crew of two.

Aboard the submarine the Captain’s voice boomed over the PA system, “Prepare to surface, aircrew report to your stations, wait for the open hatch signal” During training runs several subs were lost when hangar door were opened too soon and sea water rushed into the hangars and sank the boat with all hands lost. You could hear the change of sound as the bow of the I-25 broke from the depths, nosed over for its run on the surface.

A loud bell signaled the “All Clear.” The crew assigned to the single engine Yokosuki E14Ys float equipped observation and light attack aircraft sprang into action. They rolled the plane out its hangar built next to the conning tower. The wings and tail were unfolded, and several 176 pound incendiary bombs were attached to the hard points under the wings.

This was a small two place float plane with a nine cylinder 340 hp radial engine. It was full daylight when the Captain ordered the aircraft to be placed on the catapult. Warrant Officer Fujita started the engine, let it warm up, checked the magnetos and oil pressure. There was a slight breeze blowing and the seas were calm. A perfect day to attack the United States of America. When the gauges were in the green the pilot signaled and the catapult launched the aircraft. After a short climb to altitude the pilot turned on a heading for the Oregon coast.

The Glen was launched via catapult from a I-125 class submarine

Johnson was sweeping the horizon but could see nothing, he went back to his duties as a forestry agent which was searching for any signs of a forest fire. The morning moved on. Every few minutes he would scan low, medium and high but nothing caught his eye.

The small Japanese float plane had climbed to several thousand feet of altitude for better visibility and to get above the coastal fog. The pilot had calculated land fall in a few minutes and right on schedule he could see the breakers flashing white as they hit the Oregon shores.

Johnson was about to put his binoculars down when something flashed in the sun just above the fog bank. It was unusual because in the past all air traffic had been flying up and down the coast, not aiming into the coast.

The pilot of the aircraft checked his course and alerted his observer to be on the lookout for a fire tower which was on the edge of the wooded area where they were supposed to drop their bombs. These airplanes carried very little fuel and all flights were in and out without any loitering. The plane reached the shore line and the pilot made a course correction 20 degrees to the north. The huge trees were easy to spot and certainly easy to hit with the bombs. The fog was very wispy by this time.

Warrant Officer Fujita is shown with his Yokosuka E14Y (Glen) float plane prior to his flight

Johnson watched in awe as the small floatplane with a red meat ball on the wings flew overhead, the plane was not a bomber and there was no way that it could have flown across the Pacific, Johnson could not understand what was happening. He locked onto the plane and followed it as it headed inland.

The pilot activated the release locks so that when he could pickled the bombs they would release. His instructions were simple, fly at 500 feet, drop the bombs into the trees and circle once to see if they had started any fires and then head back to the submarine.

Johnson could see the two bombs under the wing of the plane and knew that they would be dropped. He grabbed his communications radio and called the Forest Fire Headquarters informing them of what he was watching unfold.

The bombs tumbled from the small seaplane and impacted the forests, the pilot circled once and spotted fire around the impact point. He executed an 180 degree turn and headed back to the submarine. There was no air activity, the skies were clear. The small float plane lined up with the surfaced submarine and landed gently on the ocean, then taxied to the sub.

A long boom swungout from the stern. His crewman caught the cable and hooked it into the pickup attached to the roll over cage between the cockpits. The plane was swung onto the deck, The plane’s crew folded the wings and tail, pushed it into its hangar and secured the water tight doors. The I-25 submerged and headed back to Japan.  Destroyer USS Patterson sank I-25 off the New Hebrides on 3 September 1943, almost exactly one year after the Oregon bombing.

This event ,which caused no damage, marked the only time during World War II that an enemy plane had dropped bombs on the United States mainland. What the Japanese did not count on was coastal fog, mist and heavy doses of rain, which made the forests so wet they simply would not catch fire.

This Memorial Plaque is located in Brookings, Oregon at the site of the 1942 bombing


(UPDATE October 2, 2015:)

Fifty years later the Japanese pilot, who survived the war, would return to Oregon to help dedicate a historical plaque (see above colored image) at the exact spot where his two bombs had impacted. The elderly pilot then donated his ceremonial sword as a gesture of peace and closure of the bombing of Oregon in 1942.

Thanks to David Kiernan, who sent in the following additional information about this incident.  This is from historynet.com

Japanese Warrant Officer Pilot Nobuo Fujita . . . .                    Click on image to see full size.

After returning to I-25, Fujita was more determined than ever to drop the four remaining incendiary bombs carried aboard the submarine. Captain Tagami shared his enthusiasm. He advised his pilot, we’ll make the next one a night attack, Fujita, for the Americans will be expecting another sunrise one. True to his word, Tagami surfaced I-25 after midnight on September 29,1942, about 50 miles west of Cape Blanco.

This time the entire west coast of Oregon, except for the Cape Blanco lighthouse, was blacked out. Fujita’s floatplane was catapulted into the darkness, and the pilot flew east beyond the Cape Blanco lighthouse for about half an hour before dropping the two incendiary bombs. Again Fujita was satisfied with the attack, as he observed two explosions of red fire in the forest below. In order to avoid detection, Fujita cut the Glen’s engine after passing the coastline and glided down to 1,000 feet before starting it again well out at sea, west of Cape Blanco. After some difficulty, Fujita located I-25 by an oil slick caused by a leak, and his plane was hoisted aboard.

Meanwhile, below in Oregon, a work crew of forest rangers was remodeling for winter occupation the Grassy Knob lookout station about seven miles east of Port Orford. At 5:22 a.m. they reported to ranger headquarters at Gold Beach the presence of an unidentified aircraft. Noise from the aircraft was described as like a Model T with a rod out. A fire-fighting patrol was sent out from Grassy Knob after daylight on September 29, but it found neither smoke nor any bomb debris during a fruitless two-day search. Neither of the incendiary bombs dropped by Fujita on his second attack has ever been found.

Bad weather and heavy seas precluded a final bombing attack with the remaining two bombs. Captain Tagami canceled the third mission, having decided to spend the rest of his patrol time in attacks on shipping. On October 11, I-25 fired her last torpedo and returned to Yokosuka, where Fujita discovered he was something of a national hero.

How significant were these two bombing attacks on Oregon? They were only times in history that America has been bombed from the air. For the Japanese, they were clearly a major propaganda victory, one that made banner headlines on the home front and to some extent evened the score for the April 18, 1942, Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo, itself a retaliatory raid in return for the Pearl Harbor attack.

From a military standpoint, however, the bombing raids were virtually meaningless, because no serious fires were started or significant collateral damage inflicted. Likewise, although some public apprehension was caused by the attacks, no widespread panic developed on the U.S. West Coast, at least partially due to heavy press censorship. The raids were not repeated, because aircraft-carrying submarines gradually disappeared into the increasing category of obsolete weapons. Only one more Japanese submarine, I-12, operated off the West Coast during the remainder of the war. I-25 was sunk less than a year later by USS Patterson (DD-392) off the New Hebrides Islands on September 3, 1943.

Warrant Flying Officer Fujita continued reconnaissance flying until 1944, when he returned to Japan to train kamikaze pilots. His crewman, Petty Officer Okuda, was later killed in the South Pacific. After the war, Fujita opened a successful metal products sales business in Japan. Forestry student Johnson later became a U.S. Navy Captain and on January 24, 1974, held a luncheon reunion with Fujita in Tokyo. Executive officer Tatsuo Tsukudo of I-25 retired from the IJN as a vice admiral.

See these related pages: 


Japanese Balloon Bombs

Sub Raiders of Tomorrow


How the Man Who Bombed Oregon Became an Honorary Citizen


OCTOBER 20, 2016

Most people think the only attack on United States soil during WWII happened on December 7, 1941—Pearl Harbor. Actually, the U.S. was hit again, less than a year later … to much less drastic effect.

In September 1942, a Japanese navy pilot named Nobuo Fujita dropped firebombs over a forested area near the small town of Brookings, Oregon. By dropping incendiary devices and starting massive forest fires, the Japanese believed they could divert U.S. resources and potentially cause panic.

Luckily, the plan didn’t work. Despite being spotted by a fire lookout, Fujita managed to drop two bombs—but due to light winds, rain, and speedy firefighters, the fires were quickly contained. The pilot eventually returned home, but what he had tried to do never left him.

In 1962, Fujita came back to Brookings to make amends, toting a family heirloom—a 400-year-old Samurai sword to (see – and click on – below photo) give to the town. If they refused to forgive him, the pilot intended to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) with it. “I was quite sure that once in Brookings I would be beaten up, people would throw eggs at me and shout insults at me,” he later admitted.

 1961 – Fujita in Brookings, OR with his family’s heirloom Samurai Sword – his gift to the city he’d bombed in WWII

To Fujita’s surprise, the people of Brookings welcomed him with large crowds, a special reception, and a key to the city.

He later returned the favor, footing the bill for three Oregonian teenagers to visit Japan. He also gave $1000 to the local library to purchase books for children to learn about his country, hoping that understanding each other would prevent more wars from happening. Fujita made another three visits to Oregon throughout his lifetime, even planting trees on the spot where he dropped the bombs.

Shortly before his death in 1997, the town of Brookings made their onetime attacker an honorary citizen. The following year, his daughter visited the town to honor her father’s last request: to have some of his ashes buried at the bomb site.


Fujita dropped both bombs, but nothing much happened. The forest fires never started. America won the war, and by 1962 – in the interests of improving Japanese-American relations – the Jaycees in Brookings invited Fujita to come to the United States and to be grand marshal of the town`s annual Azalea Festival. (I just realized that this may be starting to sound like some kind of satire; believe me, it isn`t.)

At the 1962 Azalea Festival, Nobuo Fujita presented to his American hosts the samurai sword he had carried on his bombing missions; he told the people of Brookings that turning over the sword represented “the final gesture of my surrender.“

Fujita, it turns out, is still alive. He is 76 years old, and works here in Japan as a manager at a factory that manufactures copper wires. With the assistance of the person who is helping me out on this trip, Chieko Kuriki, I prepared a list of questions for Fujita (he speaks only Japanese; I speak only English). I had been totally unaware that bombs had ever been dropped on our mainland. Graciously, Fujita agreed to answer.

“The purpose of my mission was to cause a big fire in the forest which would discourage American citizens to fight with Japan,“ he said. “To make them feel anxiety-therefore to make them feel (as if they should) stop fighting with us sooner.“

Fujita said that his mission was strictly a result of a military directive: “Personally, I didn`t hate Americans.“ But when his superiors told him to drop the bombs on Oregon, “It is natural for me to obey.“

Question: All this time later, after all this history, does Fujita regret what he did?

“I don`t regret,“ he said. “It was an order. If I had been killed, I wouldn`t have had any regret, either. In fact, I didn`t think I could return alive from the mission.“

Would he do it again?

“I don`t think Japan will fight with America again.“

And what went through his mind on those two missions-as he was approaching the West Coast of the United States, what was he thinking about?

“While I was flying over the sea, I was thinking only this: not to be shot down before I flew over the land. Otherwise, my mission was going to be a total failure. If (the plane made it) over the land, I thought, it would cause at least a small fire or something.

“While flying, I saw the sun rising from the mountains. It was so huge, so wonderfully gorgeous. I was knocked down by the sight. It was probably only for five minutes. I was flying, and watching at the same time if any plane would come to attack me. But I couldn`t ignore the sun. The rising sun made the mountains first in red, then later orange with yellowish tone. The whole scene was so impressive. I`ll never forget it.“

He said that the bombings of Oregon were not planned as the first step in a series of attacks on the U.S. “It was a mission assigned to me. We had six bombs prepared. So the mission was going to continue until we used up all the bombs.“ He said he was selected for the attack because “I was a very good pilot.“ After the first two missions failed, the project was called off. Then, in 1962, the town of Brookings invited him to its Azalea Festival,

“I was simply surprised and couldn`t figure out why they wanted to invite me. They wrote me that after the war U.S. and Japan must become friends.“

So he came back to America. “I`ll never forget my visit,“ he said.

“I flew over the forest by small airplane.“ That`s right-the people of Brookings flew him over the same wooded areas he had unsuccessfully bombed.

The pilot offered me to fly, so I flew.

Here`s where the story really gets good. During that 1962 trip to Brookings, Fujita promised that someday he would finance a trip to Japan for several Brookings youngsters. But the company he owned at the time went bankrupt, and Fujita became totally broke. Still, for more than 20 years he worked his way back up the Japanese corporate structure, saving every yen so that he would not default on his promise to the citizens of Brookings. “I  (was) not famous,“ he said. “I don`t talk a lot about my background. If (people in Japan) ask, I will say yes. But I don`t tell them first.“

By 1985, Fujita had saved enough money. Three teenagers from Brookings-Robyn Soifeth, 17; Lisa Phelps, 16; and Sarah Cortell, 17-visited Japan as the guests of the pilot who had once tried to bomb their small town.

“It was a short visit,“ Fujita said. “But at the (Tokyo) airport, on the day they returned to Brookings, they cried. I felt like crying, too. Please write this: As long as I am fine, I`ll take care of anyone from Brookings if they visit Japan. They are indeed very, very good people.