BERN TWP., Pa. - A 93-year-old World War II veteran took a flight through history Thursday afternoon, reliving his days as an Air Force pilot.
"I've been looking forward to it for many, many weeks… I hope it keeps running well," said Carl Constein, a former lieutenant, standing aside a C-46 transport aircraft ahead of the 24th annual World War II Weekend at the Reading Regional Airport.
The aircraft, "Tinker Belle," was flown in Thursday afternoon from Monroe, North Carolina, where it is maintained by a volunteer organization called Warriors & Warbirds. Constein was the first to take a trip.
"He's just been a good friend, and we just want to get him back up in the aircraft," said Bob Russell, vice president and co-founder, Warriors and Warbirds.
"It's amazing. It's a rare thing to get a ride on this," said Constein.
Trained in 1944, Constein flew C-46 aircrafts nearly 100 times over the Himalayas, or "the hump."
"It was an adventure every time, as you can imagine," said Constein, of Wernersville. "Five hundred miles from India to China… four hours back… seven hours total flying."
Thursday's ride was Constein's second time aboard "Tinker Belle," which Russell told 69 News is the last flying C-46 in the United States. During WWII, the aircraft was the largest twin engine in the world.
"It was a handful to fly," said Constein. "Made it every time. And here I am."
Allentown, PA 18102
- Lehigh Valley 69 News