|Following WWII, commercial airplanes flew from southern California to Hawaii. If one of their engines stopped
working during the flight, a B-17 Flying Fortress was dispatched from Hawaii to meet the plane over the Pacific.
Should the plane be downed, a B-17 would drop a lifeboat with three parachutes for the surviving passengers.
The boat could hold 19 people and had food, water, cigarettes and a manual on how to drive it. The B-17 would
then return to Oahu and land at John Rogers airport, now called Honolulu International Airport. My dad, Ben
Owen, was one of the air sea rescue pilots. In addition to the B-17 he also flew the P-51 Mustang, Fairchild
PT-19, Vultee BT-13, BT-14, AT-6 Texan, Cessna UC-78 Bobcat (Bamboo Bomber), Douglas C-47 Skytrain,
B-24 Liberator, and Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star.
Ben Owen flew for the National Guard flyover at McConnell Air Force Base at its official dedication in 1954,
flying an F-80. He was the last pilot to take off from the Wichita Municipal Airport and the first pilot to land at the
newly-minted McConnell Air Force Base. He passed away on June 5, 2012.
|Air Sea Rescue