Stuart Newman flew his last mission of World War II 67 years ago, in the spring of 1945. On Friday he returned to the skies, high above South Florida, in a vintage B-17.
“It was a real thrill being up there, particularly with my son,” said Newman, 89. “Think about it, it’s 60, 65, 66 years since I actually flew this thing. And to be back here and relive those moments was something very, very special, I can tell you.”
Andy Newman arranged for the flight for his dad through the Collings Foundation, which has its fleet of World War II warbirds in town as part of a national tour.
The B-17, operated by a Collings Foundation crew, made a short trip from Tamiami-Miami Airport to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, with Newman manipulating a target locator.
Lt. Newman reflected back to his days with the U.S. Army Air Force, when he flew 35 missions as a B-17 navigator and bombardier. On the 25th he was shot down in Belgium, but British troops rescued him.
He went back to his base in England, got a new plane, and returned to the air, carrying out missions until April 1945.
“We were convinced of our own immortality,” said Newman, who lives in Miami. “We didn’t think we were heroes. It’s just what we were doing day by day, and we were looking forward to the next meal more than anything else.”
The B-17, as well as a P-51 and a B-24, will be on display at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport through Monday morning. For more information, see the Collings Foundation's "Wings of Freedom Tour" page.