understatement to say that Connie Bowlin likes warbirds. But it does
help to explain why she’s given countless hours of her time to develop
and maintain a program at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh that matches some of
the most storied military aircraft to the pilots and others who have
flown and cared for them.
Warbirds in Review, the program has grown in popularity and number of
presentations since beginning in 2002.
said she came up with the idea for Warbirds in Review after years of
watching people walk among the military airplanes at Oshkosh. "If
someone removed a cowling, or someone started talking about their plane
as they were getting ready to fly, people would gather around. It was
obvious that people liked hearing about the airplanes as much as they
enjoyed seeing them."
in Review allows aviation enthusiasts to not only see a plane, but also
hear about how it flies or how the owner restored it, all in a central
place near the Warbirds Cafe. Over the years, it grew to include
veterans’ stories about the planes, too.
said it hasn’t been hard to come up with airplanes and people willing
to talk about them. The first year she organized seven presentations, or
one each day of the fly-in convention. This year, people can chose among
owners and veterans are very honored and willing to provide their
airplanes and their time," she said. "A lot of these people
are my friends, and they are enthusiastic and enjoy telling their
stories. I just have to make a phone call."
she credits the program’s success to her volunteers as well as her
moderators, Sam Bass and her brother-in-law, Dan Bowlin. But although
all programs have been successful, some programs stand out more in her
Hill is one of my favorite people, the greatest gentleman and leader
ever," she said. "Two years ago Tex wasn’t able to make the
event, so instead we did a tribute to Tex. You think of a program gone
bad, yet it turned out to be one of the best."
2007, Gunther Rall, the Luftwaffe pilot who is the third leading ace of
all time, appeared with WWII Ace Bob "Shorty" Rankin.
"The two were enemies in World War II and fought in the same battle
and now are good friends," Bowlin said. "The presentation
showed the values of the people are very similar, regardless of what
country they are representing."
makes it sound simple, the logistics of getting the planes and people to
Oshkosh and then to the right place are anything but simple. For her
work and dedication to warbirds, Bowlin will receive the President’s
Award Tuesday at Theater in the Woods.
developed Warbirds in Review in 2002, and since then it has become one
of AirVenture’s most popular daily features," said EAA President
Tom Poberezny. "She also has been very involved in the warbirds air
show over the years, and has served as a liaison between EAA and the
said many people exhibit the EAA spirit and are deserving of the award.
"I marvel at the other people who are so dedicated…and wonder why
we do this. But when I think about it, I know. We are pilots, and pilots
are just different."
herself is an accomplished warbird pilot. She has more than 18,000
flight hours in more than 70 types of aircraft and is currently the only
woman flying the B-17. She holds various type ratings and is authorized
to fly a wide range of high-performance single- and multiengine
aircraft, including the P-51 Mustang, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, North
American T-28 Trojan, Lockheed T-33, and British Aerospace Jet Provost.
Bowlin said her love for
warbirds started with flying the planes. But as she’s met the people
behind the planes, she has become more and more enamored with the
planes. "These people have such a sense of duty. You get pulled
into it by the history and their dedication…."