One of the lesser told tales about the morning of December 7, 1941, is that of the civilian pilots who were airborne over Hawaii during the Japanese attack. It is believed that the first U.S. aircraft downed by the Japanese during the raid was a Piper J-3 Cub flown by either Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) graduate Sgt. Henry Blackwell (NC35111) or the Cub piloted by his flying buddy Cpl. Clyde Brown (NC26950). One of these men also was the first U.S. military casualty suffered during the attack.
Shockingly, on the 75th Anniversary of the raid, one of the civil aircraft that was actually airborne over Pearl Harbor during the attack now calls the skies of Washington state home. Interstate Cadet NC37266, nicknamed "The Pearl" is on display Heritage Flight Museum at the Skagit Regional Airport. How the airplane survived until 2016 is quite the mystery, but during restoration, some bullet holes were found. On that historic day 75 years ago, an instructor and her student set out to do some touch and goes, but when the attack commenced were able to avoid a near miss with one Japanese attacker and were unsuccessfully strafed by other Japanese aircraft. The instructor,, Corneila Fort, survived the encounter only to lose her life in 1943 in the crash of a Vultee BT-13 while serving as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot). A character using her name was featured in the in the 1970 film "Tora! Tora! Tora!." Oddly, Ms. Fort was depicted flying a Stearman biplane in the movie.
Modeler's Note: Like many civilan types, there has never been a kit of the Interstate Cadet in 1/72 scale. However, KP recently issued a neat 1/72 scale kit of the Piper J-3 Cub. One of my future projects is to replicate Sgt. Blackwell's Cub in scale. Watch this space!