Florida warbirds heading to DC, part 1, P-40 “American Dream”

For the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover happening in Washington, DC on 25 September will see 2 aircraft from the state of Florida. And best of all, they are veterans of World War 2. This is the first of two articles on these amazing aircraft.

As mentioned before, Thom Richards will be flying his P-40 “American Dream” as the lead aircraft of the P-40 flight. This aircraft flew the 8th Fighter Squadron’s in the 49th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force out of New Guinea and is credited with 3 kills. 1st Lt. Joel Dixon Thorvaldson was shot down on 13 September 1943 by Japanese fighters.

Joel D. Thorvaldson recalls via Pacific Wrecks:
“When I got on the ground, the kunai grass was so high, I fired a flare to burn the grass. They knew i was out there. A friendly plane spotted me on a river bank and dropped me a raft that I used to go down the nearby Ramu River. It took me nine days to get back. At the mouth of the River, the Australians picked me up. They had only taken Lae two days before they picked me up. I had gotten credited for one kill before I even got back, because everyone had seen me shoot this plane down over the strip.  I was the first rescue for the squadron too, they did a victory roll for me when I got back. I claimed 2 and a bomber.  I was supposed to get a purple heart for my wounds but they said my plane crashed from mechanical failure, not enemy fire, so I didn’t get it. Now, from your photos of the wreck, it looks like it will finally get my purple heart! I did see a piece go by in the air, but had no idea they even hit me”.

This aircraft was recovered in 2005 and in 2008, this aircraft took to the air after being restored by Precision Aerospace in Australia. After a landing gear accident, the aircraft was converted into a dual-control one. Aircraft was sold and shipped to the USA in 2015. Thom bought the aircraft in 2018 and proudly flies it out of Warbirds Adventure in Kissimmee, Florida.

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