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Last weekend, the Sedona Airport hosted its annual Family Fun Day. Aside from the annual car show, which brought out classic cars from around Sedona and the Verde Valley, equally well-maintained aircraft flew into the airport for the show.

Two people were killed when their 1974 Bell UH-1V Iroquois crashed near Cordes Lakes, south of Sedona on Saturday, Sept. 21. Sedona Airport General Manager Rod Propst said the two crash victims were not part of the airport’s Family Fun Day but had landed, eaten breakfast and left without refueling about two hours later.The highlight for many was the “Executive Sweet,” a B-25J “Mitchell” bomber built in 1944, recently restored by a California nonprofit and flown to air shows around the country to give young and old alike a chance to see a piece of American history up close.

I was lucky enough to get a seat aboard a flight of the “Executive Sweet” toward the end of the festival last year. After crawling on my belly under the pilots into the nose-gunner’s position, I was overwhelmed with the view through the plexiglas of the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona below. I felt a connection to my late grandfather, who was an Army and a Navy veteran on both fronts in World War II, surviving the campaign in North Africa and the Battle of the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

Also aboard our flight was a World War II veteran who beamed contentedly in the plane’s waist gunner post while the rest of us “young” men clambered about the fuselage.

The B-25J "Mitchell" bomber called the "Executive Sweet" was built in Kansas City, Kan., in 1944. It never saw combat, but was later used as a training aircraft before being sold and modified into a cropduster. A California nonprofit bought the aircraft, restored it to its World War II glory and now fly it to airshows around the country, including twice to Sedona.As we lose our veterans of World War II and the conflicts afterward to time and old age, our descendants will one day just have their recorded and remembered stories and the machinery they leave behind.

While not a part of the air show, a Vietnam War-era UH-V1 Iroquois — or “Huey” — helicopter landed at the airport earlier in the day. Sadly, as the helicopter headed back to the Phoenix area, it went down near Cordes Lakes, killing both passengers. It’s tragic that an otherwise amazing event was sullied by such an incident, but hopefully no other accidents will befall the festival in the years to come.

Managing Editor Christopher Fox GrahamIn the weeks ahead, numerous festivals and events take place around Sedona and the Verde Valley. This weekend, the Sedona Winefest takes place at the airport, Sedona/Verde Valley Pride takes place in Sedona and Cottonwood and live music can be enjoyed at venues throughout the Verde Valley.

The weather is turning chilly fast, so pick up a copy of The Scene, plan your weekend’s entertainment and enjoy the last warm nights before winter settles in.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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