Flying history museum shows off more than a dozen vintage war planes in Heber City

Published: Friday, Sept. 2 2011 10:09 p.m. MDT

Skip "Ranger" Slyfield flies a 1941 Boeing Stearman from the Commemorative Air Force Museum over Heber on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

HEBER CITY — Skip Slyfield loves to fly. “It’s sort of like a sickness.”

This former Navy pilot who now flies for Delta also loves restoring old planes like the Nanchang CJ-6 and flying them in air shows. "It’s a hobby and a job,” he said.

More than a dozen restored, vintage war planes are in Heber City in what CAF calls the largest flying museum in the world. The mission of CAF is to preserve a representation of each aircraft flown during World War II and Vietnam. It has more than 150 planes spread throughout the country that have been restored. These aren't replicas — these are the actual planes that flew during war time. Now, the various CAF wings fly the planes to air shows each year.

Keeping planes like a Russian Yak or a Chinese Nanchang CJ-6 in working condition is a passion for Slyfield.

“There’s going to be aircraft that are 60 years old-plus flying because if you maintain these aircrafts, they’ll fly,” he said.

What he really loves to be a part of is the reaction from World War II vets when they see the restored warbirds take to the air.

“The transformation that you see for some of these 84-year-old men, who the most important thing they did in their youth, when they were 18 and 19, they learned to fly on one of these,” he said.

Bob Wickern is a World War II veteran and one of several historians for the Heber Air Museum. He took part in the occupation of Japan.

“World War II was a war that meant something to all Americans,” Wickern said.

He is an aviation buff that knows this kind of show is one of the best ways to pass the history of future generations.

“I have a certain amount of pride for what I did,” he said. I can’t imagine what some of these military veterans did in World War II.”

The flying history museum will be at the Heber City Municipal Airport-Russ McDonald Field on Saturday from 8 a.m. until dusk. You can ride one of these warbirds. It costs $300 for a half hour flight and $175 for a 15 minute ride. You must be at least 13 years old to participate. For more information go to www.cafutahwing.org or call 801-577-4613.

E-mail: jboal@desnews.com, vvo-duc@ksl.com

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