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A Flock of Turkeys Reunites
April 21, 2016 - Brad and Jane Deckert of Peru, Illinois, were thinking of a simple way in which to celebrate Brad’s upcoming birthday in April.
“We decided that because we love flying our TBM Avenger so much we would invite some fellow Avenger owners to our airport for a casual get together and a little formation flying,” Brad said.”
Word got out quickly and the Deckerts best laid plans turned in to a full-blown gathering of most of the estimated 12 TBM Avengers still flying in the United States.
By sundown on April 15, 2016 a total of 10 Avengers were lined up in parade fashion at Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru (VYS). Joining them on the ramp were other examples of warbirds including AT-6 Texans, P-51 Mustangs, a B-25 Mitchell, T-34 Mentor, and a T-33 Shooting Star jet trainer to name just a few.
On April 16, thousands of TBM fans descended on the airfield to get up close and personal with the airplanes, the pilots along with several veterans who shared their war time accounts of what it was like to fly the “Turkey” (military slang for the TBM Avenger) in combat.
Throughout the day the rumble of radial engines, the smell of old torpedo bomber exhaust and the sight of large TBM wings spreading out and locking into place filled the senses under the sun-drenched skies.
To ensure that all who came to witness this historic event were safe and the airplanes secure, dozens of EAA volunteers, many of whom perform these same tasks at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh each year in the warbird area, acted as flight safety officers, line crew, aircraft handlers, aircraft parking, and tug operators.
“Without these dedicated volunteers, and the owners and operators of these remaining TBM Avengers, this event would have been impossible to put on,” Brad said. “This by far was the best birthday I have ever had, spending it with a ‘flock of Turkeys!’”
Look for several feature articles about the TBM Reunion in upcoming issues of both EAA Sport Aviation and Warbirds magazines.