Without the generosity of the many people who promptly and generously gave permission to use their photos and text this website might just be a montage of 60 some planes, a few stories, and a world map. Thank you also to those who granted permission for images and text that were not used.

Photo of the Air Force Memorial courtesy of the Aior Force Memorial Fopundation.

Photo of US Flag at Night courtesy of Nell Dish

In the quest for variety and accuracy I am still looking for  color photos of the older versions to replace the some of the black and white or less correct on the Planes, planes, planes page.

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How he got in during his military service

Several factors combined to give Bill access to so many people and places.

1.    He recognized everybody throughout his life, especially prominent people and places from both the air and ground. 
2.    Bill kept abreast of performances and activities around him wherever he was.
3.    He would always arrive early for a good seat or maneuver forward to see better and be nearer the action. Sometimes he would talk to people doing set-up.
4.    Staying after an encounter or show provided more opportunities to become acquainted. Stardom did not isolate people as it does today. They appreciated the people that were their fans.
5.    Wild Bill was never shy about coming up and talking to his granddaughter says, "Grandpa never met a person didn't like or engage in a meaningful conversation."
6.    The boys in uniform were welcome almost anywhere during WWII.
7.    The US Air Force Academy that Bill calls the "good years" drew people from all over the world and his position as a Public Information Officer gave him a chance to meet or escort them.
8.    The NORAD years exposed him to notable individuals of high rank and security clearance. He gave over 100 briefings in the mountain and flew innumerable missions with his briefing team around world. That is when his love of the Sabreliner developed.

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Perhaps you wonder why I so often refer to my parents as Bill and Shirley. At Barksdale, AFB, Louisiana we lived in a housing circle with a central back yard. If a child hollered Mommy, all the mothers would come to the back door. The neighborhood decided that the children would call their parents by their first names. It just stuck with me.



How he got in as a civilian

​Bill's dad ran summer camps for North Shore children and would chaperone them to various places and events around Chicago. Bill was able to go with his dad and the other kids...mostly the museums and sports events.

The move to Ann Arbor where his dad taught at UM opened a new avenue for meeting people not only in the music and entertainment field as mentioned before but also sports figures and notable persons in other areas.​

In the quest for variety and accuracy I am still looking for color photos of the older versions to replace the some of the black and white or less correct on the Planes, planes, planes page. 

All of the anniversary edition images were retreived from the Internet and as mentiuoned below:

If any image infringes on anyone's intellectual rights, we apologize and will remove it.

"High Flight" was typed as close to Magee's original hand as modern fonts will allow. His writing had a backward slant.
Churchill photo: Please note that the photo of Winston Churchill came from a website with a disclaimer that it did not infringe on anyone's rights as far as they knew.

Permissions were requested from both host sites and photographers for other images used in Edition 2. Unlike Edition 1, some did not respond. Again, If the photos infringe on anyone's intellectual rights, we apologize and will remove them.


​Perhaps Bill's experiences would be more understandable and even more believable if you knew that Bill always kept a day to day pocket diary from the time he was a young man. He has all of them stored in some of his 167 boxes and can refer to them for details.

​Bill is a listener, an observer, a counter and has the curiosity of a newsman. He needs only to see a picture or read something to recall things and how he felt at that time. A quiet man, he is not outwardly emotional but Bill's inner self is tender and compassionate. That comes out in his diaries, letters, and cassettes. Both he and Shirley loved life and lived it to fullest daily, parly because of their inner fear that day might be their last together, but mostly because they were wonderful wholesome people, as so many of that generation were.

They both felt that fear strongly when they met in Hawaii during the Korean War. When Shirley left they both thought deeply that it was last meeting. Bill survived and they went on to live loving and productive lives.

Shirley passed on election day 2006. HER VOTE COUNTED!.

Many of you are probably wondering how Bill was able to fly so many different planes. People think only pilots fly planes and military personnel are only on missions. When his crew members were off doing their thing Bill would hang around the flight line volunteering to go along while different models were being tested or when someone was practicing with one. For the most part he was in the co-pilot's seat. He would help with the testing and of course be allowed do some of the flying.

Bill never cared whether he was in the left or the right seat just as long as he could fly. Even when he was a navigator he was allowed to fly the B-17 from time to time. He learned the ins and outs of many aircraft. With the exception of commercial planes Bill has probably been given the stick of almost any aircraft he has has been in.

 A time when Bill wasn't given the stick is when he rode with his knees on the shoulders of the pilot of a P-51 because the cockpit was so tiny. Bill has also handled gliders and sailplanes. Of course, the Air Force had their selection for him to fly in his 30 year tenure and over 1000 missions.




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The Intermural Sports Building (ISB) at the University of Michigan had four open basketball courts next to each other. This was the venue for the J-Hops, the great bands and entertainment. Underneath the courts was the area where costumes and instruments were kept when not in use. For 4-5 years as a young teenager Bill had the job of minding these things for the entertainers who were upstairs. Consequently, he had personal contact with so many talented people.

At age 14 Bill ran a bathing beach and boat rental at Ocean Beach Pier (OBP) when the family moved to Winnetka. Besides performing at dances and shows in 
Chicago, entertainers like Kay Starr and the Andrews Sisters came to the beach.

Throughout World War II London hosted shows and many people in the entertainment world were willing to give their best for those who were giving their all. Imagine doing a performance in war-torn London!
As Bill says, "People were different then."

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It is very difficult to fathom one man interacting with practically everybody who he was around for over half a century and all over the world. In interviews all I need to do is mention a prominant name and Bill will say, Knew her or knew him." Then we go on trying to place where, when, and how. At that point I try to confirm what period or decade of his life it matches and what I can find on the Internet about it.

When we do this he relives that memory and vividly relates the personal details about the encounter. This can vary from  being in the same room, sitting next to, talking to the person, becoming acquaintances or more often (as the case is being around Bill) becoming friends.​

In addition to the question below, another question that might arise is, "How was Bill able to meet so many famous people?"
Bill's position at the new Air Force Academy was not only Museum Director but primarily Public Information Officer. One of his duties was to seek out funding for the new venture. He rubbed elbows with millionaires, presidents, royalty, and other people interested in investing their time, efforts, influence, and of course money.

Here again his duties sent him flying off in all manner of aircraft to different continents, cities and countries. If Bill wasn't flying himself to various places he was flying bigwigs around. Everywhere he went people seemed interested and enthusiastic about a service academy for the fairly young US Air Force.

To further answer the question . . . Many, many times throughout Bill's life he happened to be in the right place at the right time to be noticed by people of influence who were interested in his talents. He was never a prestige or power seeker. Bill was willing and able to take on new tasks, especially if they meant the he could fly. 

Of course, in the Air Force you go where you are told and do what your orders tell you. The Air Force sent Bill all around the world and gave him a new job description at almost each new base . . . at least it seemed like it.

Consequently, he ended up in places and situations that were beyond the imagination of most people including Bill partly because these mentors had discovered him and helped guide his career.

 Notes from your Webmaster

In April Bill and his daughter were going to ride in the nose of the Commerative  Air Force's B-17 Sentimental Journey with Betty Grable nose art...wait for it...Wild Bill danced with Betty Grable when he was in flight school in Florida.​

William H. 'Wild Bill' Copp


Thank You



Anniversary What's UP?

One of the purposes of is to have it spread by word of mouth or in today's world by email or text so that people Bill knows and others that would appreciate it may view it.  But mostly the purpose is to provide Bill with instant access to a chronicle of the many good times. Happenstance made Bill Johnny-on-the-spot in the background where history was made.