Flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico… “Fifteenth Airforce Bomb Group Reunion 2021”

Our Adventure…

(Departed Home Base 9/6/2021 –  Arrived Back 9/14/2021)


Nine days total, four days of flying covering 2,802 nautical miles in 23.6 flying hours, crossing two time zones. One overnight in Kansas, one overnight in Illinois, six nights in Albuquerque (two of those John spent in the Presbyterian Hospital… see details below), and three days back at the Reunion. During those three days (after the Hospital stay) Captain John personally autographed over 60 of his books “Special Duties Pilot” and even though we had the scare with Captain John needing to be in the Hospital, we finished the Reunion having a fantastic time, then a great return flight, arriving safely back home with the comforting feeling of “Mission Accomplished”


Captain John’s Hospital Stay… 

(This is a post I made to Facebook on September 9th)

I want to let everyone know that yesterday morning (our first morning here in Albuquerque) did not start as planned. Captain John awoke not getting his breath very well and his oxygen level was low. Our flight here had been fantastic, but during our overnight in Kansas, John encountered 2 angina episodes (he carries nitro pills for these, and both times they done their job) Then, here in Albuquerque on Monday night, he encountered another. So with that, and the situation with his breathing yesterday morning, I knew that we needed to do something. One of my thoughts of course was to call 911 for a rescue squad, but I first thought I would take a long shot and call our local personal Doctor back in Virginia (I knew I would more than likely need to leave a message) so I immediately got on the phone and left a very detailed message. Kevin Barko is who both John and I see, and he knows John’s situation very well… he also knew about our trip here to New Mexico. It seemed like a miracle but in probably less than 20 minutes, Kevin himself called me back! After much discussion, Kevin recommended (and I certainly agreed), for us to seek out an Emergency Room and to get him to it. So after a talk with the front desk and a ride from their shuttle service, we arrived at a very huge medical center called the Presbyterian Hospital of Albuquerque, which turned out to be only 4 miles away! I will shorten the rest of the story (I could write pages for what they have done here checking Captain John over). They had an amazing ER (like the ones you see on TV) and they were extremely busy, but they saw to John almost immediately due to it being possibly cardio-related. We arrived at the ER around 10:00 am and after multiple tests, they made the decision to keep him. They found that he had another heart attack, more than likely on Monday night, feeling that he had been gradually working up to one over the recent weeks. He had an event (heart attack) in December of last year and was found to have some significant blockage in his main arteries. Invasive action was not an option, due to such high-risk factors for his age… so they have been treating the problem with medications and things have been doing pretty well (as a matter of fact, both his medical doctor and his cardiologist gave their approval and blessings for him to make this trip) I have been here at the hospital with him all the time they are allowing me, and that is from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. He is in very good spirits and today is looking and doing so much better than yesterday. He has a fantastic team working with him and everyone we have encountered here is amazing! The way it looks as of now (Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 mountain time) they know they are going to keep him another night and then decide tomorrow the route forward… thinking there is a very good chance of him being released tomorrow (Friday). They are all very happy with how stable he presently is and of course, they are amazed by the man himself, I think everyone here in this big complex knows of Captain John by now! We have discussed all the details with the doctors about his release, and still being able to enjoy some time at the reunion along with our planned flight back home. It is wonderful how much they pay attention to all our thoughts and questions, they seem to sincerely care!


As it turned out, Captain John was released the next day. All of the Doctors involved with John’s care were pleased with how things had stabilized and they gave him their blessings for him to finish out the reunion and then to return home the same way we departed… in 49Bravo. They did however, request that once home, for him to see his Primary Care Physician and his Cardiologist to follow up.

The Reunion and Our Flight Home…


We arrived back at the Hotel on Friday afternoon (September 10th) just in time to attend the group banquet. From that evening thru Sunday we had a fantastic time at the reunion. Saturday Captain John, along with several other interesting speakers, spoke on topics of much interest, gathering the attention of many folks. That evening was the “All Groups Banquet, which had an Orchestra playing that lead up to the evenings entertainment… Bob Hope! (aka Bill Johnson), and boy was he good! Sunday finished out with a farewell dinner and many touching goodbyes, or maybe better said… so long until next year, as folks prepared for their trips back home.

During those three very enjoyable days, Captain John personally autographed over sixty of his books “Special Duties Pilot”  we had sixty of them shipped to the Hotel ahead of us, and many folks came to the reunion with books already in hand. Our great friends, Jimmy Culpepper and his son, Matt (Jimmy is from our neck of the woods and Matt is from NC) joined us in Albuquerque for the reunion, and they together saw to the distribution of John’s books, which ran out early. A great big thank you to them both for such a great job!

On Monday, September 13th, we departed Albuquerque headed for home, with an overnight in Marion, Illinois… our flight conditions both days were fantastic, even though our Autopilot failed soon after departing NM (I slept very well both nights after all the manual flying). We arrived back at home base on the afternoon of September 14th with the pleasant feeling of “Mission Accomplished” …then we entered the most dangerous stage of our entire trip… the drive home!


Pictures of our Adventure………



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