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John Clayton: Flying Aboard An Aviation Legend!
Flying Aboard An Aviation Legend!
(Or a Travel Dream Come True)
Words and pictures by John Clayton

s a connoisseur of beauty, I thought her lines were magnificent, as her curves were in all the right places and you could see - in an instant - that she really was still a world class, truly gorgeous being. Yes, you'll have to agree with me that she'd aged very gracefully, because the lines of her body were, even today, still something to behold. Even the tapering sort of effect that made her shape so distinctive, as her wonderful looking body sort of drifted down towards her tail, well quite simply it was superb. Like the movie star that she is, she recently flew into the Torrance, California airport for 3 days of letting the public see just how wonderful she was. And to purists, still is. She was still very glamorous, no doubt about that, the colors of her skin were equally vibrant (I mean those American stars on her body really got your attention) and even for those who'd never even heard about her when they born - youngsters of say 20 or so - knew that what they had in front of them was a regal Queen in every respect. A fact clearly evident by the throngs of photographers that wanted to get a special shot or unique angle of her body. A treasured memory to hold in one's scrapbook of wonderful memories of how it used to be "back in the day." But to those who knew her, in her real glory days of the 1940s in Great Britain, she was a reminder of the fact that they just don't build ones like her anymore.

This one was called Aluminum Overcast, and she was - and is - a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Of the 12, 726 B-17s that were built, 8,670 were G models --- now only about 15 are left in the world. As part of the media, the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association, based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin) hosted me and other journalists for a brief flight over Torrance in southern California, that included a marvelous bird's eye view of the stunning Palos Verdes Peninsula. When you see Hollywood movies about WW2, and B-17's are part of the story, one tends to get the impression that the aircraft is quite roomy inside. Not true, it is very narrow and very confining. I'm six foot two and I was not able to stand upright!

Growing up in London, in Great Britain, I knew all about the B-17 and its role in WW2, and to actually fly aboard the plane was not only a dream come true, but also a magical, mystical, marvelous experience - and it made me think about the brave US flight crews who flew this magnificent bird in that conflict, and the trials and tribulations (and yes, mind numbing terror) they went through as they completed their 25 or later 30 and then 35 missions, in Europe.

Before you board the aircraft on the "Flight seeing" trips, the media have to "check in" at a special booth (it's actually a sort of caravan that both inside and out, "promotes" the EAA B-17) and after signing a form that basically says you won't sue the EAA, you're given this (I thought) wonderful small blue card that - sort of like the commercial airline industry of days gone by - says "Welcome Aboard." But when you read the first sentence, it makes you wonder how safe it'll be fly this aviation legend - the words that greet your eyes say that although the aircraft has a "Limited Airworthiness Certificate," it is not a so called "Standard Airworthiness Certificate." Then this great line. "This does not mean the aircraft is unsafe." Wow!!!

The next few sentences really put your worries to rest as they inform you that the training and crews who fly this EAA B-17 have "more training and experience" than one finds in most sight seeing type operations. Further down this blue colored, small sheet, are some words about the engines - "Four Curtis Wright 1820-97 engines power the B-17…and they have an excellent record" It then goes on to tell you that if, for whatever reason it might be necessary to actually shut the engines down (notice that's in the plural!) during the flight, "The aircraft flies quite well on three - or even two, should the unexpected occur."

History and aviation buffs will tell you, as indeed will B-17 flight crews who flew this marvelous war horse, that the aircraft could take extraordinary punishment, and still get the boys safely home. Tails half shot off, wings peppered with literally hundreds of enemy machine gun bullets, fuselages that appeared to be almost smashed to smithereens, and still this wonderful, incredible piece of flying machinery, would bring their crews and planes back to England. As some British newspapers reported on seeing them after landing, "it was a miracle how they even managed to fly." Although the B-24 Liberator could carry more bombs than the B-17, the Flying Fortress was the aircracft that captured the public's imagination. Just like the Spitfire and Hurricane fighters that grabbed the attention of the population in those now far away days, it was the Spitfire that got all the attention. The Hurricane actually shot down more enemy planes during the Battle of Britain, but it was the more glamorous Spitfire that, like the B-17, mesmerized the public.

There are so many reasons why you should take this EAA B-17 flight, but one of the things that I loved was - and it's stated in their Welcome Aboard booklet - is that you are more than welcome to leave your seats during the flight, and to walk through the aircraft; to walk above the bomb bay area; and even enter the cockpit; or go down into the nifty nose section. You are also encouraged to ask the crew any questions about the B-17, and other aspects of the flight and the aircraft's operation.

Because so many American flight crews made the ultimate sacrifice in WW2 with their lives, I thought it was wonderful that this aspect of their service to their country is noted in the last paragraph of the EAA Welcome Aboard flyer. It says, quote, "It is a real pleasure for us to share this opportunity with you. We feel it will enhance your knowledge of the B-17 aircraft and give you, as it has us, a greater appreciation for those men who risked their lives to protect our freedom over 50 years ago. Every flight taken by this aircraft is in honor of those gallant men. Please treat the aircraft with respect, as it represents a window into history and hopefully, with the assistance of people such as you, we will be able to demonstrate this aircraft for many years to come." Then in large letters this….

Welcome Aboard!

nose art on restored B17
An Aviation Legend!

The B-17G Aluminum Overcast was "born" on May 18th, 1945 when she was delivered to the US Army Air Corps. She was too late to actually fly in WW2, and for nearly 30 years she came very near -- countless times -- to being sold as scrap. In fact in the summer of 1946 she was sold to a scrap dealer in New Jersey for all of $760!!! During her "years in the wilderness" she performed a wide range of duties from crop dusting to cargo carrier, hauling (of all things!) cattle in Florida and Puerto Rico. Of the 12, 727 B-17s that were built, 8,670 were the G model like Aluminum Overcast. Lovingly restored by the EAA over a 10 year period beginning in 1979, she now proudly carries the colors of the 398th Bomb Group of WW2 which flew hundreds of missions over Nazi held territory. She commemorates another B-17 of that name that was shot down over France on its 34th mission on August 13th, 1944. Every year she flies hundreds and hundreds of miles throughout the USA and Canada giving flights and tours on this superb flying machine -- as you'll see at

interior of a ball turret, B17
The Scariest Position in the B-17

You may wonder, looking at THIS photo (taken from inside the B-17) what on earth it is. It's probably the most dangerous position in the B-17 - the ball turret that "hangs" below the center of the aircraft. You are cut off from the rest of your crew; it's exceedingly hazardous to your health as enemy fighters could blast the turret very easily as they swept by underneath the B-17 at hundreds of miles an hour and, even more terrifying, as it was hydraulically controlled, if the aircraft lost its hydraulics you were often doomed to die when the aircraft had to make a "wheels up" belly landing. Yes, of course it could be manually operated, but that took precious time, and if there were injured crew on board, and landing on your return to England was the only thing that mattered, there were instances when a B-17's landing gear would not come down, and the plane had to do a belly landing - so killing the gunner in his ball turret.

view of B17 tail section from opening in fuselage
Don't Put Your Head Too Far Out!

All my life I've sought to take innovative, creative photographs, but this was one "situation" that I found almost irresistible. When you board the B-17 and sit, as I did, in what used to the radio operator's position on the port (or left hand) side of the plane, you notice a huge, well sort of hole or large opening in the top part of the fuselage. When I asked the EAA Chief Pilot, Sean Elliot what it was, he said that "it's actually a gun port, where there used to be a 50caliber gun that slid into position here once the hatch is taken out. We leave it (the hatch) out for ventilation reasons." I leaned out as far as I dared, but was VERY careful NOT to lean out too far as the thought of getting sucked out was not on my agenda that day! Or any other, for that matter!

view of B17 from behind showing an opening just behind upper gun turret
To better explain the previous photo!

In case you're wondering about the opening discussed in the previous photo, I also show you this for a reference point. As you see looking at this photo, there IS a large black colored opening just aft (behind) the upper gun turret - that's where this opening is on this B-17.

view inside B17 bomb bay showing bomb replicas and pilot cabin in the background
A Sobering "Touch of Reality"

Because the EAA gives the public who see their B-17 as realistic an experience as possible, it's still a bit of, well shock, when you see the "bombs" in the bomb bay of the aircraft. As seen here on the right hand side. The variety of the bombs a B-17 carried, are illustrated by replicas on Aluminum Overcast, indicated by the number of yellow stripes - incendiary, general purpose and armor piercing. Although only dummies, they do add a really dramatic touch of authenticity to the entire in-flight adventure. The average bomb load of a B-17 was about 6,000 lbs. The bomb bay is located just aft, or behind the cockpit, and there's one aspect that I found to be, well almost frightening. In the center of this photo you'll see a silver sort of walkway. There are "bombs" on either side of this "path," and it's VERY narrow - almost to the point of making one walk foot over foot. While that may not be scary, the fact is that when the bomb bay doors open, it's as if there is this enormous gaping gap or huge opening (which there is!) just beneath your feet. The wind's roaring in, the noise is deafening and, unless you're very careful, you might slip and fall out of the B-17! Or at least find yourself in a very scary situation. No, this does NOT happen on the flights aboard Aluminum Overcast B-17, but that's how it was way back in WW2..

front view of B17 taxiing on runway
Four throbbing, pulsating B-17 engines of power surging towards you!

As Aluminum Overcast moves towards you, you see and hear an aviation legend come to life - and it's an amazing and stirring sight!

Name: Required
E-mail: Required
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For "Ride With John Aboard Europe's Most Dazzling and Luxurious Train":

You and your trains and boats and planes, you always make me want to get off my more-than-ample behind and travel! Thank you again for yet another vicarious adventure.

Richard F., Saugerties, NY

Yes, Richard, THANK you for your kind words, so delighted you (with all YOUR worldly travels) enjoyed it. Travel journalism has given me the opportunity to be aboard and relish, some of the best and finest in train travel. The Orient Express was THE thrill, THE total enjoyment, of the best of the best. So good to hear from you.

From "Always training John."

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For "Harry Potter's 'Hogwarts Express'":

Loved the Hogwarts Express article.

Nancy – Hawaii

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For "Tantalizing Takeoffs, Trains, Trips and Tennis":

Dear John,

Lovely story as always, and your photos are superb. You do have a way with words.

Corinna – Washington DC

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That is indeed an interesting and enlightening article. I will remember how to get away from the airport and to London proper. Wimbledon looks spectacular; I suppose they're going to use some of it for the Olympics?

Mary J. Purcell – London

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John - excellent as usual and full of interesting details and anecdotes. Masterful writing!

Agnes Huff – London

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For "Exciting Adventures in London — By Way of San Diego":

Hello John,

I enjoyed reading your article on London by way of San Diego, it was a fun and informative read. You flew past Carlsbad on your way to San Diego. Have you visited Carlsbad lately? When you have a couple of days available I would like to invite you to visit Carlsbad. You can get to Carlsbad by train as well. I look forward to part 2 of the article.

Frankie Laney – Carlsbad, CA

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Thank you very much for your story to me and Old Town Trolley Tours. I am happy you had a nice tour and that we were referred to you! I enjoyed reading your story and can't wait until I forward this email to my Manager and the General Manager tomorrow,

Yoli – San Diego, CA

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That is wonderful! I really enjoyed Part one of five....awesome writing skills you have!! A true gift!!

Best regards,

Agnes Huff, PhD – Los Angeles, CA

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Great stuff, thanks for sending this through and the other emails – great read…

Val Austin, Senior Visit Britain International Press Visits officer, London, UK

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As a subscriber to Traveling Boy, I love reading your stories John. I send them through to my Mum as she appreciates them too!

Lisa, Australia

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For "Must See Attraction" in Northern Spain:

Hi John! Loved your article and Castro de Santa Tegra is added to my "want to see" list. Would love to visit Portugal and Spain and this added to the desire.You are a marvelous source of information and I'm sure Travel Boy will appreciate your experience and information. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

Nel Stingley, Hermosa Beach

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Mr. Clayton,

Thank you for your intriguing article on Castro de Santa Tegra. Quite literally, I have never even heard of the place, but it it is now officially on my 'bucker list.'

Brock Alston, Boulder, CO

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I saw that! That was so cool! I wasn't expecting it, so when I started reading it I was thinking, "Wow, another person wrote something similar to what I was saying to John!" Hahahaha! I didn't recognize it at first. :) That was really nice - thank you for answering me regarding the UK. I'm going to buy a travel book and check out the places you were talking about. Your experience about Normandy got me appreciating visiting battle "destinations," if you will, so I'd like to check out a couple of those that you mentioned.

Always a pleasure,

Cristina Lovett
Museum Educator, The Banning Museum

My dear Cristina,

If you go to the current Traveling Boy website, and click on my current story about crazy signs around the world, at the end of the piece you’ll see your question and my answer/suggestions about your travels.


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John, your ardent love of travel and discovery, seem to be the grist for your excellent writing skills.

Having just returned from a visit to France, to visit old friends, and enjoy that lovely country, it is not hard to comprehend how travel truly spawns, witin all of us, inspiration out the "gazoo."

Terry Hare

My dear Terry,

Thank you so much for your wonderful and very, very encouraging words. They made my day - hey, it made my month!!!



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(The letter below was sent in response by a reader to the article A Most Unusual Tourist Attraction)

Did you ever serve in the army? Were you in a combat zone? This affinity/hobby of war for the sake of the competitive and challenge is beyond me. I served 3 years (mandatory) in the Israeli army and was only involved in it while I had to be there (even that seems like too much). This article is inspiring to me because of the answer of the cemetery official and the figures of dead on both sides. I can not understand saluting to a person who did his best to kill as many people as possible. If you live out of fear or brainwash you will never stop killing and harming. Does that deserve a salutation or pity?

On Behalf Of Etan, USA

Etan, Greetings:

Many thanks for your thoughtful email with regard to my Traveling Boy story about my visit to the German cemetery in Normandy. To answer your first question, yes I did serve in the Army although NOT in combat. I‘ve been in this great country, the USA, for 48 years and was born in London, so when I was 18 I had to spend time in the Army doing (what was then called) National Service. I was in North Africa and Malta. Although I wished I’d been in combat, I never was. As a travel journalist I was, obviously, very happy that you found what I wrote inspiring, based on the comments of the French manager of the cemetery, and of the tragedy of how many young lives were lost on all sides due to that dreadful conflict.

He, the old, guy, was a fascinating individual, and I really enjoyed chatting to him. I’ve always had a (and let’s call it what it is) fascination with war, and the military, and have watched (almost!) every show on the Military channel, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, countless times. I’ve also been to many WW2 sites around the world. Yes, I agree with your view that war is terrible, but what if we – the Allies - had not done anything about Hitler? Could we, or should we have allowed him to run amok around Europe and the rest of the world? I think not.

As terrible as war is, it seems human beings cannot find another way to settle certain problems – although I’m hugely encouraged by the approach of the EU and how so many people now realize that fighting is NOT the answer. So I live in hope war might be a thing of the past, but I doubt it.

My saluting M. Wittman’s grave. As I stood there I was, to be totally honest, in awe of the fact that I was standing above the grave of this incredible Nazi tank Ace who was the top, or among the top scoring tank commanders in the Panzers. I saluted not who he was, nor – certainly – what he stood for – but for his talents as a tank tactician. Most British and American historians of that war, and who are really interested in such things, will confirm to you that whatever else one might think about Wittman, he was a brilliant tank commander. That, and only that, was what I was recognizing.

For 16 successful years – 1992 to 2007 – I was on three top LA radio stations (KABC, KKGO/KMZT and the KNX) with my show “John Clayton’s Travel with A Difference” and I always enjoyed hearing from my listeners - even though at times what they sent me might not have been what I was expecting. In other words, I found it fascinating to hear both the upbeat, offbeat and down beat. When I wrote what did I knew that it would generate some responses like yours. While I do not (NOT!!) advocate TBoy's writers' doing stories that are provocative, the fact remains that human beings (whether they admit it or not) like controversy - witness Glenn Beck, O'Reilly etc and of course R. Limbaugh. What I am saying is that if you, as the writer, feel strongly about something, you MUST put those thoughts down in your story. While I abhor all things that guys like Wittman did as a Nazi, the fact is he was a brilliant tactician.

I must share with you yet again how delighted I was – and still am – by your words, and I’m so glad you wrote and said what you did, and that you took the time to share your feelings. I do hope you can – at the very least – accept my thoughts and ideas that I’ve laid out in this email on this very sensitive subject. Perhaps even more so, for someone from Israel.

With best regards,.


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John, Your refection on how young those can be who die in war reminded me of the A.E. Houseman poem at the entrance to the Fighter Command museum in London (beside the photo and engine of the RAF fighter pilot who died in the Battle of Britain): "Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose; But young men think it is, and we were young."

Eric, San Diego, CA

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Ringo and Deb can have their Oasis - this to me smacks of heavenly travel - thanks for the article and photos.

Brenda - Richland, WA

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Hi John,

I have read a few articles about R for Robert, but yours by far is the best. My grandfather was co-pilot John Slatter (my Dad's dad). It is so neat to hear about ancestry. There is actually a book published called R for Robert. Another interesting detail.... I live in NH, and in 1985 a lawyer with many interests from Concord,NH and a sonar exploration company from Salem, NH were the ones who started the project to pull the Wellington out of the Loch. I am always trying to find information about that side of our family, and love to read articles such as yours. Thanks for the piece.....

Cyndi - Raymond, NH

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Greetings my dear Cyndi

I was born in Kensington in London, and although I've been in this great place called the USA for 48 amazing years, if it is still true that Brits ARE noted for understatement, let me tell you that your email not only made my day, but gave me a huge, huge thrill.

I am a WW2 aficionado, and had one of the biggest "thrill sensations" of my life, when the French government invited me to the 60th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6th, 2004. In fact, I sat 50 feet from world leaders like Bush, Putin, and Queen Elizabeth. When I went to Loch Ness and heard (and saw!) that a wonderful Wellington had crashed there, and that it also pin pointed WHERE it had happened, I was in nirvana. I stood on the side of the road and, as I gazed out at the cold and forbidding waters that day, I was instantly transported back to the time and day when it happened - and in my imagination I saw and heard it all. So to get your amazing and (to me) riveting letter, was and is totally amazing - and wonderful.


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Hello John,

Ed Boitano (who I met on a Star Clipper cruise in the Mediterranean last July) has sent me a link to your above article on the 'Little Steam Trains of North Wales' which I read with interest. One of the photo captions mentions a sign above the train in Welsh, which says: FFORD ALLAN GOFYNN'R DEITHWYR DDEFNYDDIO'R BONT I GROESI'R LEIN. Rougly translated it is a Notice to travellers to use the bridge to cross the line. In Welsh bont is a bridge or archway, Groesi is a crossing, Lein a line, (in this case a rail line or alternative it could mean a line-out (as in Rugby football - but that's another game!) Although born in Wales as Ed may tell you my Welsh is very limited, but trust this answers your question and it amuses! Kind regards,

John Dann - Hove, East Sussex, England

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How wonderful to know that people in Hove (for heavens sakes!) are reading Traveling Boy. I remember -- with much fondness --- visiting Hove during my early years in the UK - charming and very British, so I hope it is still that way and that it has NOT been over run with neon signs and crass commercialism.

Thanks too for your comment about the Welsh wording on the bridge. There were so many wonderful things that intrigued me about Wales, and one of them was - and is! - the language. I mean you'd see this long series of words in Welsh, and then underneath it would give the British translation, and it'd very often be only one or two words. I attach a photo I took of a road sign to illustrate my point. In any event, thanks for your kind words and interesting feedback. MOST appreciated.


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Dear John,

Your website is fantastic. I am building a Messerschmitt BF109E Model in Balsa Wood and I have a problem in finding the numbers of its original colour (BF 109E-3 with a Donald Duck painted at rear of Romania.)I've been looking around and tried to see through the internet but can't find any help. Please if you have this information and can help me, I would appreciate it very much and I thank you in advance I send you my best regards,

Philip Vella - St. Julians, Malta

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Hi Philip,

Very nice to get your email and I'm so glad you like what you've seen and read on Traveling boy. Sadly, I do not have the answer to your question either. I do, however, have one suggestion and idea.

Among all my aviation books form that period, I have one called "Aircraft of World War 2." It is published by Chartwell Books, 114 Northfield Avenue, Edison, New Jersey 08837, USA. The editorial and design was done by Amber Books at Bradley Close, 74-77 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF, England. Their website is

As the above book is jam packed with fascinating facts about all the aircraft from WW2, I feel that if you write to both of them with your question, they might be able to help you. The book is written by Robert Jackson and he seems to be a mountain of information. Google his name and see what comes up.


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Hello John, I don't know if you remember me or not but my name is Cliff Pleggenkuhle, Jr. I flew for Cal from 1964 to 2003. I got the article you did on Wes Coss from the Cal Chief Pilots office. The communications people forwarded the article to them. Anyway, I sent the article to the Golden Contrails editor and he is going to include the article in our next edition. The contrails is the publication of our retired group the Golden Eagles.

I have read the book and it was great. It would make a good movie. I also sent your article to my old banker, who is a airplane and WWII nut and I think he is sending you an article about the underground in WWII. He writes articles of interest in a weekly local paper in Liberty County, TX.

I will quit rambling and just wanted to let you know your fine article on Wes will be appreciated by many.


Cliff Pleggenkuhle, Jr., Huffman, TX

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Sir...A good friend, a captain with Continental Airlines, Cliff Pleggenkuhle sent me your website. Indeed, your story about the great escape (albeit brief) was one that should be shared. Chuck Yeager also made his way to Spain and his story was somewhat similar. But it takes a real writer to set the plan in motion (and I really mean...motion) as you have done.

I'm taking the liberty to send you a copy of my newspaper column about another hero that I have known. Ironically, your mention of the escape of Wes being true can set aside the Great Escape of Stalag whatever. The untrue part that it was led by an American pilot when actually it was a Dutch pilot named Bob Vanderstock and others. When I went to Belgium with my friend Pieter Cramerus, a Dutch ace who flew Spitfires during WWII for the RAF, he told me about his friend Vanderstock's escape. Then, he introduced to me this fantastic former agent of the Belgium Underground who married his cousin. The rest is in the article. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks again for your expertise in writing the word.

Bob Jamison, Dayton, TX

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You're getting some serious journalism on your site! Literary indeed. Award-winning potential, and I'm not just talking about YOUR stuff!!

Terry Cassel

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Of all the stories I've written in my lifetime, I cannot think of any one that gave me as much pleasure and joy, in writing the piece about Wes. It required all my best "creative juices," and also - truly thrilling for me - gave me a marvelous opportunity to put words together about battle, about flying and about military history. Knowing how important editing is to any story, and to a reader's enjoyment of same (in other words it has to flow freely and be very concise) I wrote the article in one sitting, and then re-wrote it six times.

I have no idea who this Terry Cassel is, but I cannot tell you how thrilled and how, yes overwhelmed I am, by his brief (editing again proving that less is more) comments about my story. Thank you Ed for giving me this opportunity to put THIS story on the amazing Traveling Boy website. And Wes, thank you for allowing me to chat with you and glean from you (and then your book!) all the fascinating stuff that came together as my article.

Thanks must also go to my wife and my two daughters who have always believed in me, and who (as Father's Day has just passed) gave me the most wonderful and heart wrenching Father's Day cards imaginable. I have always told them that anything is achievable and possible, and that one should NEVER give up. Keep on knocking on doors and even if 20 are closed in your face, if you find yourself knocking on the 21st one, that'll very probably will be THE one that opens up for you - and demonstrates that your determination to never take NO as any sort of answer is a key part of success.

Finally, all of this has only been made reality, by my living and working in this place called the United States of America. Thank you all for everything.


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Thanks so much for sharing this great story - I am going to copy it to VB who runs the Travel Journalism awards.

Fiona Stewart, Edinburgh

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Nice piece. I adore Scotland, wish I could live there someday...

Chris, Pawling, NY

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I enjoyed reading your piece on France; it was very informative. Unfortunately, I've spent very little time in France; it's more to the favor of my oldest brother. But your words painted a good picture.

Danny Simon

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Hi John, I am a friend of your daughter Heidi and she sent me your link so I could read your articles. I have heard so many things about you from her but reading your article I can see why she is so proud to call you her Dad. Your writing transported me to Chewton Glen, I hope to one day be lucky enough to stay there!

Frances Crymble, Auckland, NZ

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You describe a city on wheels - er, wings - and an absolutely perfect way to travel. SHOWERS & FLOWERS! Amazing! I love that your passion for all-things-aviation comes through in this story about an almost unbelievable airplane. Thanks for breaking the news in such an engaging way!

Richard Frisbie, Saugerties, New York

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Good article on the biggest commercial airplane in the world. Very interesting. Love your easy personal writing style. Can't wait to get inside one of these sky monsters. I wonder how they will ever recoup their expenses. But then again, with the Arab nations overflowing with cash I shed no tear of sympathy. If anyone has to beta test these babies, it should be them.

Peter Paul, South Pasadena

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Dear John Clayton:

Thank you very much for your enthusiastic report on the Zeppelin Museum. I am very pleased you like it as we -- the people working there -- do. We try to collect everything on Zeppelins and to make it available to visitors. Only the number of visitors I would like to correct: since the opening in 1996 we hosted more than 3,600,000 people. So we are among the most visited museums in Germany.Thank you very much again -- and kindest regards,

Ursula ZellerDirector

Hi John,

I know the places you describe in your aticle, and I usually feel exactly the same as you did, when I wander in the countryside - I live in this region. How could this places, so peaceful today, be such a hell for some men? But if you're attentive to many details in the ground and the scenary, finding shell shrapnels and tumb stones for example, then you begin to understand

Thank you John.

Florence L.
City: France


It's as if I was there with you. I grew up with Sgt York comic books. To see the real place where a real person so heroically saved the day is something I never expected to experience. Thanks for the historical detail and great photos.

Richard Frisbie
City: Saugerties


As a history and Churchill buff, I found your article to be chilling. I hope someday to make it to the museum. Is the CWR at all part of the Imperial War Museum? I don't know how I missed it in my only trip to London back in 2000.

Thanks again,

Gary Avrech
City: Santa Monica

* * * *

Hey Gary....

Yes it is. If you go online and click on the IWM website, you'll find out even more information about this intriguing museum. Thanks for your times and words.



Very excited to see your appearance in the Boitano Blog. I don't know who the hell all those Boitanos are, but I know who John Clayton is! Hey, I wrote a note on your column on the Cabinet War Rooms. I'll be a regular reader. I certainly hope all are well and happy on the Peninsula and that all your travels are still terrific.

Ed P


I urge anyone traveling to London to put the Cabinet War Rooms high on their "must see" list. All who've taken my advice have thanked me, just like I thanked you, and do so again, for recommending the museum to me years ago. But then, it's just one of many suggestions of yours, every one brilliant!

Port St. Lucie, FL

Stay tuned.

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