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Home History Fun & Games! 1946 Flyover

Exhibit at Lincoln Historical Society Museum celebrates 1946 flyover


May 8, 2010 - At the Corro house on West Broadway, Lincoln Historical Society members have been putting the final touches on a new exhibit. Hanging upside down in a corner at the museum is a model of a P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Behind the plane is a backdrop painted by Lincoln resident Dennis Gray. A framed photograph of a pilot with his plane hangs under the mural, and along the walls is the story of the exciting day in 1946 when Roger Weatherbee buzzed Lincoln in a P-51.
Harley Sproul of Lincoln was an 8th grader at the time, and he never forgot the flyover. Harley built a model of the P-51, which he donated to the Historical Society. Read on for the whole story.
Roger Weatherbee
A mentor of the finest kind
by Harley Sproul 
WWII had ended but some people thought “ Is WWW III just starting ? “
Seriously, it was May 20, 1946, when Roger did his flyby over Lincoln. It was a warm spring day and downtown Lincoln experienced an astounding display of arial acrobatics, the likes of which had never been seen before or since. To this day, those who can remember it feel the experience was the best thing to happen in Lincoln for a long time.
In 1946, I was in the eight grade and the Lincoln school system was getting crowded, so the eighth grades were sent to Mattanawcook Academy that year. Our rooms were on the back of the school and we could easily see out onto Mattanawcook Lake.
As I said before, it was a warm spring day and Helen McKenzie, our teacher, had the room windows up full. We probably were impatient and wishing that the end of the school year would hurry up and come.
While studying, suddenly we heard a low hum, something like a bumble bee sound that kept getting louder by the second. The louder it got, our curiosity peaked, and we all stood up with the teacher wondering, too. 
We saw a P-51H fighter plane coming across the lake, maybe about 300 feet above the water, with it seemingly just clearing the top of the school building making a thunderous noise that had every one in the building wondering. It must have been going 300 miles an hour.
After our minds and curiosity cleared, we all sat down and resumed studying. In just a few minutes though, we couldn’t believe it. We heard the bumble bee once more, and after that beautiful plane cleared the school we finally got down to things at hand. 
Later, we learned who the pilot was, and realized the flyover was to alert Taylor and Minnie Bradstreet, Roger’s in-laws, living in front of the school on the other side of the street. Roger couldn’t return to Pinecastle Army Air Base, Florida, his home base, until he had done an inkind for his parents.
After the flyover for the Bradstreets’, Roger turned right and went up over Lincoln Center, returning down US Route 2. When his plane was near the Ballard Hill School, he turned it upside down so to be sure to see his dad, who was manager of the state liquor store on Main Street and then on up High Street to see his mother. Rumor has it that the town officials called Dow Army Air Base in Bangor, to find out what all the noise was about.
Roger is a mentor of mine, and I still relish in telling his story as I have done many, many times.
Harley Sproul 
- Lee Rand
Here's a closeup of Harley's P-51 model (mural by Lincoln artist Dennis Gray)
About the Builder 
In my youth, I built and flew model airplanes year round. One day in 1947 I bought this P-51D, hanging overhead, in kit form from Dodo’s Sport Shop here in Lincoln for $4.75. Today, model airplane kits of this model, using a completely different system of construction, are radio controlled and sell for much more, around $300.00. 
At the time I purchased the kit, with lack of experience, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to build the plane, so the kit laid around for the next twenty-five years before I attempted the construction. Like many things that we are involved with, I didn’t work on it for long periods and actually I took sixty years to complete the model. That seems like a long time to keep track of something.
Not realizing what would happen if I used parts out of the kit box, taking them extended the building time much longer than I had dreamed. It took me two years longer to complete the plane just not being able to find a canopy. Speaking to a west coast friend about it, he suggested I try Tower Hobbies. Lo and behold, they had the correct canopy in their catalog, but nothing in stock. After a year and a half, it came into stock satisfying my needs. New wheels were needed and a wheel strut had to be made, also a new tail wheel that now folds into the body, as the main landing wheels also do. I have the correct engine for this model, that I also bought back in my modeling days, but didn’t install, as I didn’t intend on flying the plane. It’s much too delicate a structure.
I am happy to be given the chance to honor Roger, and to display the plane here in the town’s museum, on a permanent basis.
Harley Sproul
To My Kids
October 15, 2002
This picture was taken May 20, 1946 at Presque Isle’s Army Air Base in Maine. Present and watching was Taylor Bradstreet, Bill Kelly, my dad and my brother. I am in the cockpit ready to depart for Florida, where Lorraine and I had lived a little more than a year as newlyweds. The airplane, a P-51H, was purchased at the North American plant in California for the US Army Air Corps on October 23, 1945 and flown by me to Florida. Due to the fact that most of the mechanics had been discharged from the service at that time, each pilot was required to maintain his assigned airplane. This plane was flown and maintained by me from the date it was purchased until I was transferred from Pinecastle Army Air Base, Florida to Korea, flying P-51D’s in June 1946.
Still today, I hear stories about my departure from Presque Isle and the flyby over Lincoln on the return. It seems over time these stories may have become somewhat exaggerated. My recollection of this event has faded but with reminders from living witnesses, I guess the memory will not be lost completely.
Roger Weatherbee