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The TBM Avenger Reunion 2024

May 31, 2024—The annual TBM Reunion took place on May 17 and 18 at Illinois Valley Regional Airport. Despite challenging weather conditions across the nation, ten TBM Avengers flew in to participate in the event.

The Commemorative Air Force's Ghost Squadron has three TBM Avengers, and the Rocky Mountain Wing's TBM 309 and the Missouri Wing's TBM were present. Unfortunately, the Capital Wing's TBM Doris Mae couldn't attend due to an ongoing maintenance project on the propeller.

This year's show featured a special event on Friday night, the "TBM Glow," a popular nighttime TBM Avenger Engine Run-Up. Following the TBM Glow, the event included its first-ever fireworks show to conclude the Friday Night activities.

The Veterans Salute and Honor Walk was an incredibly impactful event due to the many veterans in attendance. CAF Col Stu Lynn of the Rocky Mountain Wing shared his experience at the event on Saturday morning.

It started when he noticed the Rocky Mountain Wing’s stairs were missing. He saw the crew of the TBM Ida Red using the stairs to help a passenger get in the aircraft. They were going to give 98-year-old TBM radioman Joe Will a TBM ride. Joe Will's first flight in a TBM was in April 1944. He spent months of training and was then assigned to VC-79 aboard the USS Solomons CVE-67, heading for the Pacific. He logged 174 hours preparing for the invasion of Japan before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Joe Will expressed that he was glad he didn't have to kill anyone but was prepared to do the job he was trained for. Joe Will's last flight was in November of 1945.

“It was an incredible experience to witness Joe Will take flight in the TBM, just as he had 79 years earlier,” said Stu Lynn. Crowds gathered to watch Ida Red, piloted by Wes Atteberry, take off amidst cheers. The aircraft returned after a short flight with a visibly elated Joe Will.

After the flight, Joe Will told Stu Lynn, "That's a reason to live to a hundred, so I could do that again."

TBM 309 On one of the very early flights at the reunion, Pilot Bill Shepard noticed an oil spike while in the air. The Rocky Mountain Wing members opted to do ground tours while in Peru and investigate the cause of the issue.

Crews discovered an issue with the magneto, which necessitated replacement before takeoff. The airplane's ignition system requires two magnetos, one on each side, to fly across the mountains. Bill Shepard, the pilot of the aircraft, stated, "For safety purposes, the left side of our magneto system has gone out on the fritz, and we are awaiting a new replacement part to conduct a field repair."

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