Monday, February 25, 2013

Flight mission: Gettysburg.

It was a nice, sunny, almost windless day, so what to do...what to do?

I took off, and made the turn out of the pattern, and a short distance out, I saw what I shall call "Bob's House of Junk" down below. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

This is not unusual around here, being west Virginia and all, but that one red truck caught my eye--is it? Could it be?

Yep--a second pass confirms that the red pick-up truck in the yard is almost certainly an old M-715 one and a quarter ton military truck. I want it. Next free day, Ima gonna find Bob and make an offer on it. Unfortunately I was so busy trying to photograph it that I forgot to take a bearing on exactly where it was, so now when I get back to work and have a couple of free hours, I'll hit Google Earth and hunt for it.

Hey look--snow!

It's one of those places where people go to ski. Absent real snow, they make their own. Would that be faux snow?

Arriving at the object of today's mission, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The last time I was here, it was October of 2006 and I was just learning to walk with my then-new prosthetic foot. Aaron of the Shekel had come to visit and we went here where I immediately overdid it with the attempts at walking. But it was great all the same. Now I'm back, but in a plane. This is easier. With a right bank, I head south of town to take in the battlefield.

First thing I see is the old Cyclorama.
Little did I know when I took this that the historic building, vacant for years, is going to be razed this week.

Here's the monument to the dead of Pennsylvania. There are monuments to troops from every other state here, but this one is one of the largest and most ornate.

These are the fields that 12,000 Confederates under General Pickett marched across in an ill-thought-out attack on 7,000 Union troops on the other side known today as Pickett's Charge.

This charge, ordered by General Robert E. Lee, across three-quarters of a mile of open ground right into the muzzles of Union cannon and rifles, resulted in almost 50% casualties among the attacking force and was the turning point of the battle and the beginning of the end for Lee's attempt to take Pennsylvania and Maryland and ultimately, Washington DC itself.

The tall monument marks the High Water Mark, or the point that the battle turned as the Confederates were repulsed. The red barn beyond it is to Codori farm, which was there during the battle. It's estimated that over 500 Confederate dead were buried on the farm when the fighting was done.

Down below here is Devil's Den and Little Round Top above it. Some of the battle's most savage fighting too place here, with snipers nested in Devil's Den and artillery pieces on Confederate-held Round Top to the south and Little Round Top (shown here) which was held by the Union.

These are significant to me because I walked up Little Round Top on my own--the longest walk to date--when last here with the new foot. That's when I also learned that it's easy to walk up hills with a prosthetic foot, but much harder to walk back down, both owing to the fixed angle of the foot. I made it up just fine, but had to send Aaron back to get the car because I wasn't up to the walk back down yet.

I walk much better now. And I fly.

Cyclorama again.

The National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

8,900 men were killed in the three days of fighting here. It took ten days to find and bury them all, and that didn't include the horse carcasses.

And heading back west towards the airport, I pass over the Railroad Cut, where there was heavy fighting on the first day of the battle as Confederate forces attacked Union troops here, driving them from this ditch before being driven out again themselves later on.

The bones of a dead soldier last washed out of the side of this cut in 1996, a hundred and thirty three years after the fighting ended. No one could tell whose side he'd fought for but he was interred in the National Cemetery nonetheless.

I landed at the little airport west of town.

When I got there, the place was all locked up and empty. Not finding anyone, I left my plane in an out-of-the-way spot and walked into town to find lunch. A couple of guys at a nearby shop recommended the Sharpshooters Grille about half a mile away, so I went there.

You know it's a good bar if all of the school bus drivers are there. And they were. They had a great selection of beers, but alas, I could not have any because I was flying. The iced tea was ok, though.

Then it was back to the airport and off towards home.

On the trip home, I decided to do a touch-and-go at Hagerstown Regional Airport in Maryland, basically just because I didn't feel like detouring around their Class D airspace again. They cleared me for a touch-and-go and I shot it and moved on to the southwest, heading back home again.

Once back on the ground at my airport, I saw this cute little Cessna 150 getting gas.

It's just like an airplane, only smaller.

This one even has a name.

Then I watched them use a ground tug to push one of the C-5 Galaxy transports out of the massive hangar across the field.

Yeah, I need to get me one of those for my next plane. I wouldn't have to walk to restaurants when I fly into new airports because I could just take my truck with me.

Good day. I'm happy.


  1. Nice. My grandma was so excited when my folks took her to Gettysburg - she remembered the stories her uncles told her about fighting there.

  2. Good photo essay, thanks for taking the time to upload all those photos. Hope you're successful with the truck.

  3. What a great day! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Good pics, and truck hell, you could just carry an entire restaurant with you... :-) Customers and all!!!

  5. Nice post, with great pictures. Thanks. That C-5 is a monster. It would take a nation's resources to run them.

  6. Anonymous12:36 PM

    Thanks for sharing these pictures.Gettysburg is on my bucket list