It's been 45 years since Fred Selle was a "wild, crazy kid" flying a fighter plane during World War II.
But the "kid" came back briefly during the 1988 War Bird "Fly In" air show at Salt Lake Airport No. 2 in West Jordan."It only took five minutes till I felt at home," said Selle, after a ride in the back seat of a P-38, the type of aircraft he flew over North Africa and Italy during the war. "It felt good. It felt real good."
The vintage plane was flown by Marvin "Lefty" Gardner, a founder of the Confederate Air Force, (CAF), which collects and maintains WWII aircraft seen at air shows throughout the country.
The three-day West Jordan air show, which ended Monday, featured some of the most popular planes in the CAF collection of 144 fighters and bombers. Although aerobatics was probably the show's biggest lure, spectators also got a good look at other wartime memorabilia.
A field west of the runway was covered by a camp and displays set up by the Intermountain WWII Re-enactment Association. Inside a hangar at the airport, spectators filed by an exhibit commemorating the Flying Tigers, an American volunteer group which served in China, Burma and India.
The event also attracted a handful of vendors who hawked inflatable aircraft, hats, balsa wood planes and aircraft paintings.
Bryant Holman of West Valley City attends the show every year. Monday, he set up his lawn chair in front of the P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane renowned for its strafing proficiency.
"I come because of its history, and the beauty and the sound of it," said Holman of the P-51.
Although the air show drew a large crowd, a CAF spokesman said attendance was down from last year, possibly in reaction to the crash at an air show in West Germany in August.
"We have a feeling the thing in Germany has hurt us badly," said Col. Rodger O. Busenbark, public information officer for the CAF. "I guess it's just the public's ignorance that countries other than the United States do not run under (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations."
Scores of people attending the West German air show were killed when two planes collided and a flaming aircraft careened into the crowd. Busen-bark said such an accident couldn't happen at the West Jordan air show because FAA regulations prohibit aircraft from flying over or toward spectators or coming closer than 1,500 feet.