March 22, 2010
-The Museum of Flight is home to the American Fighter Aces Association,
an organization formed by true American heroes spanning from WWI through
On March 27 at 2 p.m., The Museum of Flight presents a panel of World War II veteran pilots including eight-aerial combat victory Ace James Tapp; 13-victory Ace Clyde East; 13-victory Ace James Brooks; and Distinguished Service Cross recipient, two-victory fighter pilot James Kunkle.
Kunkle was one of
three American D-Day veterans personally honored by President Barack
Obama and French President Sarkozy in ceremonies at
Col. James B.
|President Obama greets veteran James Kunkle at D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, France, June 2009.|
Tapp was involved
with missions defending
He earned two more victories on escort missions and two during fighter sweeps. While leading 150 P-51 Mustangs escorting the B-29 raid against
After the War,
Tapp spent the rest of his 30-year career with the Air Force in the
areas of research and development and test flying. He now lives in
He remained with
the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 10th Tactical Reconnaissance
Group, until the end of the war in
Capt. James L.
Brooks, U.S. Air Force - A native of
While on a special
mission from Russi to
During the Korean
War Brooks participated in the first "big, all-jet battle" 42,000 feet
Lt. James K.
Kunkle, U.S. Air Force - James K. Kunkle, was a P-38 and P-51 fighter
pilot credited with two aerial combat victories. He joined the 401st
Fighter Squadron, 370th Group of the 9th Air Force and carried out 36
combat missions in support of the Normandy Landing operations and
bombing missions in
He was badly
burned but was able to open his parachute and was rescued by soldiers
from the U.S. Army's 1st Division. He was decorated with the
Distinguished Service Cross. Kunkel was one of three American D-Day
veterans honored by President Barack Obama and French President Sarkozy
in ceremonies at
The citation for the DSC reads: "The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to James K. Kunkle (0-763232), Second Lieutenant (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-38 Fighter Airplane in the 401st Fighter Squadron, 370th Fighter Group, NINTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 16 September 1944, during an air mission over Aachen, Germany.
On this date, while flying as rear man in a squadron on an armed reconnaissance mission, Lieutenant Kunkle noticed that his squadron was about to be surprised by a vastly superior force of enemy aircraft. Unable to summon his leader on the radio, he alone unhesitatingly pulled away from his formation and vigorously attacked the enemy, immediately destroying one of his aircraft. In so doing, Lieutenant Kunkle placed himself in a position to be attacked from the rear and above.
When this attack materialized, many hits were registered on his aircraft which caught fire burning his face, neck, and hands. Despite his burning plane and the gunfire from enemy planes, Lieutenant Kunkle continued his attack against the vastly superior enemy force and succeeded in destroying a second enemy aircraft, breaking off combat only when forced to parachute to safety when his left fuel tank exploded. Second Lieutenant Kunkle's unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 9th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces."
Over 30 aircraft representing the first century of aviation are displayed in the all-glass T.A. Wilson Great Gallery. The evolution of space flight and a look into the future are presented in the exhibit, Space: Exploring the New Frontier. The Airpark includes outdoor displays including the first jet Air Force One, a supersonic Concorde airliner and the prototype Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Interactive displays in The Flight Zone provide educational and entertaining activities for young children.
aeronautical library and archival holdings are the largest on the West
Coast. More than 140,000 students are served annually by the Museum's
on-site and outreach educational programs--the most extensive
museum-based youth aviation and space education program in the country.
The Museum is the only air and space museum in
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