Wednesday, December 07, 2016

December 7, 1941 - A day that will live in infamy

It was a nice day for flying and general aviation pilots were out early on a Sunday morning to get some flying in before the winds kicked in later in the day. The date was December 7, 1941. The place was Oahu Island, Hawaii. The planes were Piper Cubs, and Aeronca aircraft.

Pilots flying aircraft such as Piper Cubs and Aeroncas were among the first to be killed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7th. Two soldiers -- Sgt. Henry J. Blackwell and Cpl. Clyde C Brown, who had recently learned to fly from Robert Tyce had rented two Piper Cubs and with one passenger, Sgt Warren D. Rassmussen, prepared for a sight seeing trip. Blackwell and Brown were a part of the Civilian Civilian Flight Training Program to teach college students how to fly. Brown and Blackwell were hoping that there time in the CFTP would mean that they could be military aviators. Tyce along with his wife Edna, were there to watch Robert's former students take off, they never made it back. Japanese fighters shot down the two Cubs. Meanwhile, Robert Tyce was fatally wounded when he was hit in the head by straffing from a Japanese fighter.

Other pilots of general aviation aircraft that morning were more lucky, they encountered Japanese fighters and survived. As did the pilot, crew, and passengers of a Pan American Clipper. The pilot heard the attack on his radio and diverted to another airport.

So on this, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I want to pause and remember Blackwell, Brown, and Tyce who died that morning. I want to remember the 68 civilians who died.

All in all, 2,403 Americans died in Pearl Harbor that day. I will always remember.

For more information:

Civilian Pilots Under Fire at Pearl Harbor (AOPA, December 7, 2016), by Jim Moore, accessed on December 7, 2016 from Note I am not sure how long this particular link will work.

First Planes Down at Pearl, Aviation History Magazine by Stephen Harding (November 4, 2013), accessed on December 7, 2016 from

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