Terry Hand’s story “Our Own Honor Flight”


Below is a link to a family story written by Pietenpol builder Terry Hand. It is an account of taking his father, a US Navy Seabee in WWII, to see the memorial in Washington on the occasion of his fathers 88th birthday. I have read the story several times and find it moving, and I asked Terry if we could share it with Corvair builders.


Every week I have people forward me stories from anonymous sources about servicemen they never met nor heard of before. The stories are often, neat, tidy and contain an unambiguous uplifting moral message. Some of these stories evoke Vietnam infantryman Tim O’Brien’s quote about war stories.


Conversely, Terry story, about his own father, draws more questions than it answers. It mirrors the experience of many son’s of such men, sons who found their fathers very reluctant to say much of anything about what they had seen and done in their youth. Buy a mixture of luck and persistence, Terry discovers a key that unlocks some insight to his Father’s experiences. Well worth a careful read.


The link to the story: After clicking on it, also click on the “download”






Above, Terry Hand with his steel tube Pietenpol at CC#24 in Barnwell, SC.



Terry also has a wicked sense of humor, ‘refined’ by years in the Marine Corps. Above he is intentionally provoking an inter-service rivalry by wearing the “Hat of Power” normally reserved just for CC#22,28,32 host Kevin Purtee. This is a major protocol violation. The photo is from late at night, Barnwell College #31. Terry and fellow Marine Andy Shorter were joking around saying things like “The Marines have been sent in Force…Two….why so many?” We expect this stuff on the day before the birthday of the Corps (Nov. 10).




Terry also wrote a very well received guest editorial here. While he is an airline guy today, flying heavy stuff globally, he also spent a significant amount of time instructing in T-34s at Pensacola. The insight in the editorial comes from lessons learned as an instructor at “The birthplace of Naval Aviation.”


Link to the editorial:


Guest Editorial, Pietenpol builder Terry Hand.


Here is a sample of the mail on Terry Hand’s Editorial:

Zenith 601XL builder and flyer Phil Maxson writes:

“This is an excellent article. Each of these points resonated with me, but I’m particularly struck by number 5. I am beginning my 24th year with Mars, Inc, a mult-national food company. We are very big on the Freedom principle, and in our case, it is called “Freedom within a framework.” In a company of 70,000 associates it is not possible for everyone to have their own “do whatever you like” form of freedom, but each one of us is obligated to exercise our own talents and skills within our purview. We have a framework that includes five principles: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and the one I’m emphasizing here: Freedom.”

Builder Matt Lockwood writes:

“Terry- Thanks for this. Especially point #1. There is a certain discipline that comes with making yourself slow down and consider the ramifications of your decisions…i.e fish tank tubing for fuel lines and/or routing it through the cockpit. Some of the information that is out there on the internet doesn’t consider the ramifications, nor do these anonymous advisors out there have to suffer the consequences of you taking their advice. Everyone, please be careful. Thanks again to you and to WW. P.S. I thought ‘NATOPS’ stood for ‘Navy’s Attempt To Operate Planes Safely’Matt Lockwood, VT-3 1997-1998″

Builder Jerry Mcferron writes:

“Footnotes and warnings are often written in blood. Don’t add yours.”

“In the early 60s my Dad was a Navy flight instructor at Pensacola teaching in T-34s. Earlier, in 1958, Dad was the co-pilot in a helicopter that crashed and he was severely burned. He was the only survivor of the four crew members. A few years ago I received an e-mail from a lady looking for my Dad. Her Dad was the pilot of the helicopter. She had not yet been born at the time of the crash, so she had never known her Dad. If the fates of our fathers had been reversed, I would not be here. The investigation into the crash resulted in changes to the procedures for flying helicopters. Dad is now 76 and passed his physical a few weeks ago. He is still teaching people how to fly. When Dad calls me and says “I got to go flying today”, it makes my day.-Jerry”

Builder Dan Branstrom:

“Amen, and Semper Fi.”




On the subject of ‘war stories’, infantryman Tim O’Brien, wrote in his book The Things They Carried:


“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil. ”

About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

3 Responses to Terry Hand’s story “Our Own Honor Flight”

  1. Joe Goldman says:

    Looks as much fun as they had in the CCC. Except for all the people trying to kill you.

  2. Kevin Purtee says:


    • Kevin,
      It is just 100 days until Corvair College #32 at your place, and you can correct the injustice of Terry trying on the “Hat of Power.” I expect that you will wear it 24/7 during the College to demonstrate it’s rightful place upon your head. Others may try to remove the sword from the stone, but only one king wears the crown.-ww.

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