Q: Did a P-51 fighter fly under the Eiffel Tower during World War II? I have heard this story, but I don't know if it really happened. Can you tell me if it's true? J.P.R., Buck Hill Falls, Pa.
A: Yes, it's a true story. In the spring of 1944, fighter pilot Bill Overstreet (of the U.S. Army Air Forces' 357th Fighter Group) pursued a German Messerschmitt Bf. 109G in his P-51C Mustang, which he called the "Berlin Express." Overstreet had already hit the German plane, but in an attempt to ditch the American, the German pilot flew over Paris, which was heavily armed by his compatriots. He flew his Messerschmitt under the Eiffel Tower, no doubt thinking he would lose his pursuer and lure the American into anti-aircraft fire, but Overstreet went right under the tower, too. The American scored several more hits, and the Messerschmitt crashed soon after. In 2009, the French ambassador to the United States, Pierre Vimont, awarded the 88-year-old American pilot the Legion of Honor. The medal is France's highest honor.
Did you know ... Hugh Beaumont, who played Ward Cleaver on "Leave It to Beaver," was an ordained Methodist minister? In 1946, he earned a Master of Theology degree from the University of Southern California.
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© Copyright 2010, Gary Clothier
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