Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blimp Crewmen Recall WWII Days at Glynco; Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport Dedicates Its New $11 Million Terminal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Blimp Crewmen Recall WWII Days at Glynco; Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport Dedicates Its New $11 Million Terminal

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK -- Some of the men who flew -- and flew very slowly -- at the former Glynco Naval Air Station during World War II were back Thursday for the dedication of a new $11 million airport terminal.

What is today Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport was then the home base for airships that protected the shipping lanes from German U-boats. John Fahey, an pilot, flew there from 1943-1946 and met Barbara Ann Haag, a Glynn Academy high school student who is now his wife of 60 years.

"I'm so happy to get back here," Fahey said just inside the doors of the spacious terminal, which opened to traffic in late June. It was far different in World War II, when he was at the controls of an airship, he said.

Because they react slowly, blimps are hard to control and flight was made even more dangerous because the airships were never grounded.

"No matter what the weather, we flew. We lost people in weather and fog," he said.

Flying 200 miles off the coast to escort ships, some of the airships ran out of fuel and their crews were lost, Fahey said.

The blimps were very effective and used their radar, sonar buoys and magnetic anomaly detectors to locate German U-boats and then attacked them with depth charges, bombs and torpedoes.

"We drove the subs out of the shipping lanes," he said.

Running out of fuel wasn't the only danger, said Ron Hurley, a crewman who spent time on Fahey's ship.

On an 11-hour flight to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the navigator failed to compute the wind and other factors into the flight, he said.

"We ended up hitting a mountain in Cuba," and had to remain in Guantanamo two weeks repairing the badly damaged airship, he said.

Blimp flight sometimes made for some interesting times at home. Nearly nauseated by a flight in a pitching blimp and the sickening smell of a crewman's canned spaghetti, Hurley said he was glad to get on the ground until he got home. There he found his wife, Shirley, heating canned spaghetti for dinner.

"I took the pot and threw it off the back porch," he said.

"I thought he had gone nuts," she said.

Don Donatt, who manned the radio and radar on the blimps, attested to the miseries of blimp flight, recalling a flight to Guantanamo that took 32 hours with a stop in Key West for fuel. …

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