By Molly Moser
Guttenberg resident Neil Webster got an up-close view of some exceptionally dangerous flights at the Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb., late last month. He and Fred Kann, a Navy vet who served in Vietnam, attended the 2014 air show with Webster on July 19 and 20.
In one such flight, said Webster, “The pilot flew his plane upside down just off the runway to pick off a pennant hanging between two 15-foot poles, using the plane’s vertical tail.” Another pilot flew along the runway with wings perpendicular to the pavement, and yet another flew straight up into the sky for several thousand feet before continuing further upward with acrobatics.
The show began with Navy Seals dropping in via parasails directly in front of the VIP tent where Webster and Kann were seated. “A short time ago I received an invitation from the Commander Colonel Guillot of the 55th Wing Offutt Air Force Base to attend the air show,” Webster said, explaining how he and Kann were placed in the Commander’s Tent. “I had served with the 97th support group to the 55th in England during WWII and had previously been invited to special activities from the 55th wing.”
Now 93 years old, Webster has been involved in radio and electronics since high school. He grew up in Waucoma and attended radio school in New Orleans. After receiving his license to operate a radio station, he began working at WGRM in Greenwood, Miss. In 1939, he was making only $12 a week – so he quit and joined the military. This decision brought him to Hawaii, where he was serving at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.