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C-9 Nightengale – evacuation (evac) plane made as comfortable as possible -  additional speed made it a really good airplane for a lot of things -  Bill spent most of the time assisting the medical personnel in the back – wishes we could have had more of these.

Sailplane - This is where my wife Shirley and I flew in a sailplane; you could ride the thermals and actually climb. We both loved it! To the right is Pikes Peak.

B-26 INVADER - As General Glantzberg's aide Bill flew  the genera o the Pentagon many times in the B-26 Invader - fast airplane - General Glantzberg was very fussy about checking in at different points especially at night so if Bill was not right on time with his check-ins the general would let him know it - he was a good pilot and taught Bill a lot about airplanes.

T-41 Mescalero – cute little devil – very light – might have been also used as a trainer at the USAFA

14 – Cessna 400 - Flown before and after retirement - probably the busiest airplanes in the world - like the little 140 for 4 people rather than the 160 that is a little bit heavier

J-2 Cub – very well-known aircraft – very small – you might squeeze two people in but it would be tough – little prop – little wheels – the prop is the same size as the one Lindbergh brought to the museum collection at the USAFA – just plain fun to fly – not like other airplanes – down the runway at a certain speed the tail comes up – it almost flies itself – depends a lot on the propellers for speed and stability since that’s all you’ve got – it’s all you on this

C-46 Commando - Surprisingly, the C-46 was actually bigger than the C-47. The Commando was the mainstay of the hump fliers in China. At that time the original runway at Hong Kong, China was a pier that ran into the ocean. You came in over the water and landed on the pier hopefully stopping at the dry land terminal – kind of an interesting way to land – cockpit had excellent visibility – all controls on top – lots of room – real good slide on the seats –Bill liked to fly this airplane - this looks like it might be a later version

U–3 Blue Canoe – this was a strange bird – only flew it once – had a huge propeller – almost touched the ground – long distance - used for special missions but Bill never found out what they were

A-20 Boston (Havoc) – One of the very few planes that had a rear gunner.  It was surprise to the enemy who only saw the window at the top of the fuselage where the gunner was. The window would open and the gunner would stick the 50 caliber machine gun out the window and when the clip was empty and drew it back in. It was surprise to the enemy. Didn’t carry much cargo at all but was pretty fast and pretty handy.

Beech Bonanza – flew Shirley to California in it. She said it fit like a tight girdle – had a lot of fun with it – in CA neither one of us  could find the airfield with all the lights so called the tower and they flashed the runway lights – quite an experience – those were the days.

B-29 Super Fortress – flew in both WWII and Korea. The planes had been refurbished in AZ after WWII and were not in very good shape for Korea.

U-64 Norseman – rugged plane with extra large fuselage and engine - at the end of the war because of much confusion it was very difficult to have to transport the badly injured Germans to German hospitals because most people don’t understand how really hard it was to get anything done between individuals who were former enemies – this was a part of the war that Bill didn’t like very much – it was rough. In times of stress military personnel joke around. Bill’s pilot did this while landing the US transport of wounded Germans near Stuttgart German hospitals by saying, “This is Gausay ober Oberhofen ober” which meant “This is Gausay over Offenrpoffen over." It made everybody smile.

Helicopter - The Army showed Bill auto rotation probably just to scare the Air Force, and they did! They would cut all power, have him dive almost straight down to pick up speed and when he had enough speed pop it out and for a certain period of time the rotors acted as wings giving the craft additional wind power, then do a quick level off with the blades rotating, and the craft would settle into the landing if they were lucky. Bill found it kind of scary without wings to rely on, but of course he also found it fun.

​Jim Wilson's personal photos of helicopters in action can be found at
www.229thAvBn.com/JimWilson . Bill met Jim and his wife recently.

B-25 Mitchell – Jimmy Doolittle’s Tokyo Raiders plane. Bill loved this airplane. It had plenty of power – Flew over Hastings, Nebraska at 9pm and ran the props through to let his family on the ground know he was there. His father-in-law was mad at him because he thought the noise would disturb hospital patients. Nose art was very popular and lasted for the entire war when crews got to fly and maintain their own airplane. Look for more about Jimmy Doolittle in future editions.

B-50 Super Fortress – great big – a lot of crews called it “the Workhorse” - was on display at the US Air Force Academy when Bill was there - good solid airplane - used occasionally in Viet Nam - Bill liked the B-50 better than the B-52

C-130 Hercules - The finest transport ever made the C130 Hercules is now in its 21st version worldwide. One time the pierced aluminum planking of the runway blew apart while landing the Hercules at Anh Khe golf course Viet Nam. We saved the plane & the troops we were carrying. We reversed the props to stop. If we had used the brakes it would have been tragic.The C-130 could land like it was on a pillow if handled correctly. Bill could set it down on the struts with barely a wiggle.

T-6 Texan II - 

T-34 Mentor – square tail, heavy, rugged – flew just like all the rest of them – it was pretty good – very much like the T-6

PA–28 Cherokee – a four passenger airplane and a good one – wheels go in quickly – important because they have to get up before the branches and other high obstacles on take-off and landing

PT – 17 Stearman trainer – lots of them – another pretty little airplane that was a lot of fun – you can make very tight turns in the air and on the ground - America's very popular bi-plane - a flyer's treat - as the ditty goes, "it'll loop, roll and spin, but it won't auger in."

C-119 Packet – Flying Boxcar – very heavy plane to fly – used primarily for low altitude – one of the few with twin tails

Stinson Sentinel – this photo is of an official plane belonging to the air force – tail dragger – awfully light tail only about 6-8 inches high – fun to fly with the windows down - they flew better than the pipers – the six numbers on the tail indicate that they sold a lot of these planes - Sentinels had incredible visibility, a little heavier engine, big tail and a roomy interior.

B-47 Stratojet – only one group of these in the United States as far as Bill knows – they were nuclear and the only all nuke in the world – wore radiation dosimeters and had to be very careful - very powerful airplane – 6 engines – wings went up and down 17 feet while flying – highly classified at the time. -  Very few people knew that in 1956 during the cold war Bill's wing of 45 B-47s fully loaded with nuclear bombs in each plane took off.  Bill's target designation - Moscow. The Russians had flown into Egypt and some had taken over the Suez Canal. Over the mid-Atlantic 5 minutes from the point of no return they got the recall order. The Russian planes were returning home.

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C-47 Berlin Airlift – they used every aircraft that was available – planes were taking off and landing day and night in every kind of weather – 24 hours a day – constant unless severe weather -some of them didn’t make it but the airlift kept going – it was a classic – Bill was very impressed with the Americans and what that did with Berlin Airlift – hauled everything, and I mean everything – in and out – we had the DC-3

PA -24 Comanche – nice family airplane, seats four – handles well – lot of wing – good solid take off and landings – just a well-made airplane

C-124 Loadmaster - A four story monster whose brakes were always squeaking. One time at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, when given the controls Bill felt he  couldn’t keep it airborne. The C-124 was yesterday’s version of the airbus. It loaded from front bay. You get some idea of the size by comparing it with the man in the photo in front of the bay doors -  a huge noisy airplane – very hard to fly – very hard to load and unload – it was one of the hardest to deal with – unwieldy – you had to get up so much power before you could do anything – Bill didn’t like it. (Photo unknown source)

J-3 Grasshopper – one flight at Ann Arbor – you could load a lot of stuff in the back – it’s very spacious inside for a single engine airplane

C-118 Liftmaster - Bill doesn't remember this one very well.

B-52 Stratofortress – the biggest plane we have- has eight engines – everything you see here will fit in the plane – Bill thinks it’s pretty impressive – backbone of the entire Viet Nam War.

C-74 Skyfreighter – good hauler – almost any freight hauling – the only thing is does – all the way from the bubble back is storage

Aeronca – first military plane Bill ever flew in - at Ann Arbor, MI - at age 15 - checkout after WWII -  handled real well.  It was earlier than other planes at the time.

T-39 Saberliner - When asked why the Sabreliner is his favorite passenger plane, Bill responded, “Because you can do more with it than any other plane I’ve ever flown.  It is very sleekly designed, a pilot’s dream. We would climb quickly to 41,000 feet above all other traffic and then we would scoot just under the speed of sound. The T-39 is one of the few optional supersonic planes. In an emergency because of the speed brakes it is possible maneuver the aircraft almost straight down through a traffic pattern at a busy airport to land normally. When you throttle back the engines are almost silent. The twin engines are way back behind the tail so the noise is behind the passengers.The cabin is extremely comfortable. The four passengers can swivel and face each other over a table and talk in a normal voice."

PA -38 Tomahawk – handles real well – can get off quickly – a good general airplane – not much difference between the Comanche, Cherokee, and Tomahawk – all good airplanes

T-37 Tweety Bird – very flat surface airplane – lot of fun – another plane everybody liked to fly – nice big cockpit – pilots sat side by side – it was designed as a trainer rather than converted

AT-7 Navigator – powerful, heavy plane.  Lost an engine in the center of the Gulf of Mexico with passengers - contacted a carrier who offered their flight deck to land on as a joke because they found out that Bill had never landed on a carrier. Bill managed to fly the crippled plane that was low on gas to the Corpus Christi airfield closest to the gulf landing with a few drops of gas and some very nervous passengers. If he had to ditch he would have done it on the beach. The beach saved a lot of airplanes.

J-4 Cub Coupe – this photo is of one has a lot of paint – don’t know if it could get off the ground with all the paint – pretty fair 4 cylinder engine – well-liked by the pilots – Cubs can stop on a dime

PT-13 Kaydet – sleek little colorful airplane – everybody likes it – easy to fly -  usually had another pilot with me – good two pilot airplane

One day in the Texan Bill ran into a large Texas Dust devil while shooting landings. It blew him off the runway with the tail up and wheels intermittently on the ground around the instructor’s control tower, and onto the runway with enough lift to take off. The flight instructor on the ground, Bill Bierman, radioed, “Quit horsing around Copp”; not knowing that he was fighting for control the whole time. Another time in the T-6 over Waco, TX BillI was soloing -  practicing aerobatics at about 5000 feet. He lost and regained control of the plane in a secondary spin.

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T-39 Sabreliner

Cessna 150 – all different – as the numbers increase so do the qualities – you can find them in any country in the world – Shirley and Bill loved flying with the pilot Matt Miller at his flight school in AZ – Bill considers Matt one of the finest air coaches that he has ever known

C-141 Starlifter – light airplane – liked it very much -  could fly high or low and it would perform the same

C-45 Expediter –sweet flying little transport used by both the Army and Air Force -  carries about 8 people – about as big as the twin engines get - notice the tail.

T-33 Shooting Star - Bill had one scary moment on the non-stop flight back from Andrews AFB Washington DC - in the T-33, 21,000ft over Stapleton airport in Denver, CO. He was flying alone and lost all electrical  power as he let the gear down because the main battery power shorted. The tower realized he was in trouble so they flashed their runway lights. In total darkness he made a wide sweeping turn and landed at Stapleton fully prepared to head into the mountain. Our dog Buster had started howling at home at about the same time I was in trouble.

J-1 Vigilant – very few of them – they’re fun – used mostly at air shows now

C-54 Skymaster - Aerovac patients were loaded as seen here. One time when Bill lost an engine he was carrying General LeMay and some of his top aides. General LeMay tapped Bill on the shoulder and said, "I'll take over now." (Photo unknown source)


AT- 11 Kansan – not very interesting, heavy looking thing with a big nose.

T-29 Convair Classroom – sometimes used as a flying classroom with books and everything – also used for evac and Bill again helped tend the wounded

Stinson 108-1 Voyager – this photo is of a good airplane in bad shape –  lucky to find one though - you can get four people in nicely - with the big prop it can carry quite a load.

C-47/DC3 Skytrain ( Gooney Bird) – great airplane – another one Bill loved – has a lot of hours in that plane- when all the other planes couldn’t get off the ground because of the snow - you could let the wheels down on the DC-3 to give it height - then you’d warm it up – you’d bring the wheels up as you skid on top of the snow by holding the brakes down and it would take off for you – no other plane could do that – it was especially useful  flying in and out of Washington, DC – Bill’s #1 aircraft in bad weather – the underside of the plane is very flat so you were literally skiing on the snow. They took the aerials off before this maeuver and put them back on through a window while in the air so they wouldn't lose radio contact.

C-117 Skytrain – kind of a crazy construction with how high the control is above everything – can’t remember much about the airplane – they didn’t use too many of them,

J-5 Super Cub – Canadians loved them – this one really moves – can switch propellers – for its size it is pretty fast and can be flown right down by the rivers and everything

T-28 Trojan – heavy airplane – special duty plane – square propeller – rugged airplane – very fast – had pretty good equipment like lights and such – two versions single blade and four blade – you could change props - depending on the mission – Lindbergh was very strong on getting the right propeller for the plane.

Glider – on one of the launches the rope broke and Bill did not have much flight speed - luckily he had a landing area even though it was a pretty hard landing


William H. 'Wild Bill' Copp


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B -17 Flying Fortress - The U on the tail indicates that this B -17 was of the Thurleigh based group that was one of the three groups in Bill’s wing. Bill was based in Chelveston and the other bomber group in Pottingham in central England. It had an 11 man crew. The Flying Fortress was far and away the best bomber that the Air Force had and no pilot would argue that.
Bill's commander, Col. Henry McDolnald, had a P-51 Mustang that he would take and slice through the practice formations between the B-17s. If they weren't tight enough he would say, "close it up."

B-45 Tornado – flew one time – rode in it a few times – pretty good little airplane. 

T-38 Talon – Bill loved to fly this one – it’s fast – it’s very light – more maneuverable than most aircraft – you could get up above forty thousand feet with these – has that little knob on the front

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B-24 Liberator – very heavy airplane that often got overloaded in the opinion of the pilots that flew it.

T-39 Sabreliner – Bill’s favorite passenger plane - mentioned first in the first edition under Vivid Memories

Many, many ways to say, "I love to fly aircraft."

C-131 Convairliner – flew some of the nurses in it – nice clean little airplane – evacs – new ones – helped a lot better – got the injured back faster – had medical equipment and teams on board – had priority with injured aboard – a rule of thumb

DH-98 Mosquito - See story in Vivid Memories

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C-123 Provider - 3-bladed props – only about a foot off the ground – had to be careful where you land it -  funny shape – very high tail – mostly a low level plane – short hops – we didn’t have the extra fuel tanks - slow going and easy to overload - the Provider was underpowered - Bill still wonders how it can fly - it always looks like it is making a belly landing.  Photo courtesy of John Olafson