By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — A unique early birthday present brought out a stream of memories for Kenneth Haines.
Haines gave an approving thumbs up after his ride in a Army AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter Friday afternoon at Goshen Municipal airport.
“I enjoyed that. The last time I walked out to an airplane was 70 years ago,” said Haines, an 87-year-old Goshen resident and World War II Army Air-Corps veteran. “And that was a B-24. I was a tail gunner and I flew 22 missions out of Italy for the European Theater in 1944 and 1945.”
Haines said he enlisted in 1943.
The veteran was strapped into the front seat of the Cobra helicopter with help from Jim Brennan, a member of the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation Sky Soldiers Demonstration Team.
“We didn’t do this in a B-24. We sat down in a turret. We didn’t strap in, we just sat down,” Haines said. “We had a flight suit, a flack vest, which provided a little protection, and a parachute. We stood up and looked out the window. I remember gasoline and the smell of gasoline while smoking in the back of a B-24.”
Brennan told Haines the ride would be cool because the Cobra has air conditioning.
“Bet you didn’t have AC (on the B-24),” Brennan said, chuckling. “I know you had a helmet and a microphone, though, the same as in here.”
Haines, who turns 88 in a couple weeks, was visiting the airport with his daughter, Shelly and his son-in-law Gary Treharne, a committee member of the Rotors and Ribs event.
The conversation came around to the rides on the Cobra helicopter as part of the event.
“My dad said ‘I’m going do that,’” Treharne said. “My dad loves planes.”
His daughter asked if the ride was loud.
“No, it was fine,” Haines said, smiling. “I didn’t feel it lifting up or landing but it jiggled a lot (while waiting for the helicopter blades to stop before disembarking.)”
The Rotors and Ribs event takes place today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with helicopter pilots flying their machines and barbecued ribs provided by Tony’s Restaurant of Findlay Ohio.