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Pilot takes more than one kind of journey

November 16, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- For retired pilot Frank Lamm, slipping behind the controls of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum's C-119 Flying Boxcar was a journey back in time.

Decades ago, Lamm spent eight years flying C-119s for the Air Force and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. So when Lamm took the pilot's seat Thursday to begin the first leg of the 55-year-old plane's ferry flight home to Hagerstown, "it felt very familiar," the Gainesville, Va., pilot said.

Despite the plane's age, Lamm said he had no apprehension about the trip.

"I like them (C-119s) so much, and I felt so good in 'em," he explained.

Lamm said the C-119 has some shortcomings, but overall is a good airplane to fly. He said he also feels comfortable in it because of the positive memories he associates with it.

"Your early 20s is a good time in your life, and that's when I was flying these," he said.

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The flight was a flashback for Lamm in another way, too. The flight engineer, Galen Seal, flew C-119s with Lamm in the 817th Troop Carrier Squadron during the 1950s, yet the two had not seen or heard from each other since.

"We've been reminiscing this whole week," Lamm said.

Preparing the plane for the trip was frustrating as the crew waited for repairs and parts, then for good enough weather for the flight. Because it was a ferry flight, the plane was only required to have its most necessary instruments working, but that limited the kinds of weather the crew could fly in, Lamm said.

In the end, the waiting paid off, and the crew was rewarded with heartfelt thanks from people who remembered building C-119s.

"They had tears in their eyes, and I would get tears in my eyes," he said.

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