World War Two glider pilots reunite in Lubbock

World War Two glider pilots reunite in Lubbock

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

During World War Two, like so many other towns, Lubbock mobilized for the war effort. 

There were victory gardens, steel drives, and the glider program. Thousands of glider pilots received their training during the war in Lubbock. 

James Winnie did not train on the South Plains, he was not a glider pilot, however he was in charge of making sure the gliders got back home. 

"The glider sits still on the ground, we come in with the airplane, hook on to the tow rope and take the glider off into the air from the ground," Winnie said. "Don't tow it off, just snatch him off the ground."

It is a tough task but if you ask Winnie he makes it sound a lot easier.

"It's like you're out fishing on a boat, you're catching a big fish and you try to start reeling it in and he's taking more line and you start putting more drag on your reel. It's the same thing as snatching," he said. "You start putting drag on that with the intentions of not snapping that line or losing a glider."

To see what it felt like inside one of the gliders while it was being snatched up, he decided to sit inside one.

"It was quite a set back in the seat when it took you off the ground because you're sitting dead still and then all of a sudden you're flying around 110 mile per hour."

It is stories like these that Winnie's fellow service members get together and share every year at the World War Two Glider Pilot Association Reunion.

"This year they decided to come back to Lubbock where about 6,000 of the 7,000 glider pilots that were trained in the program actually took advanced glider training," said Sharon McCullar, curator at the Silent Wings Museum. 

This is the 48th reunion for the group. McCullar said every year new details are learned about the glider program. As time passes, she said these stories are critical to keeping the legacy of the gliders alive.

"We have six of them here," she said. "I think six during this reunion and every year we lose a few more of them so the Association is very much a way to continue telling the story and preserving the legacy."

The glider program is still around. Glider cadets from the Air Force Academy were in attendance at the reunion to share their stories. 

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