Alaska’s Centennial of Flight celebration now includes a particularly special aircraft, a Vultee BT-13B Valiant World War II training plane that was formally donated to the Commemorative Air Force Thursday by longtime Anchorage resident Howard “Mike” Hunt. The BT13B flew earlier this month in Kenai as part of aviation celebrations underway across Alaska all summer, culminating in Fairbanks on July 4.
Hunt first came to Alaska during World War II as a pilot for the Air Transport Command, ferrying “Lend-Lease aircraft for the Russians,” he said, and “flying just about everything into Ladd Field in Fairbanks.” Hunt flew dozens of aircraft during the war, “everything but the P-38 and Connie [Lockheed Constellation],” he recalled. His favorite aircraft is the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, which he commanded at Boeing Field, Wash., even though he was just a 20-year-old with 80 hours of flight time.
“You think you’re indestructible when you’re 20,” and with Hunt’s success flying every plane the U.S. Army gave him, it’s no wonder why. Hunt just kept on flying.
For the complete story by Colleen Mondor of the (Anchorage) Alaska Dispatch, click here.