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July 3, 2012 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

Pilot reunited with plane from 1939 crash

ROANOKE, Va., July 3 (UPI) -- A 90-year-old retired pilot in Virginia said he was delighted to be reunited with the 1934 plane he cracked up in 1939.

Wes Hillman of Roanoke said the Taylor E-2 Cub didn't have a propeller, wings or motor by the time he sold the fuselage 40 years ago. New owner Howard Miller, 86, a retired commercial pilot from Winston-Salem, N.C., restored the aircraft to its former glory and flew it to Roanoke June 20 on his way to a gathering in Pennsylvania, The Roanoke Times reported Monday.

Hillman said he sold much of the plane off part by part after he "cracked it up" in a minor crash in 1939. The engine went to a World War II scrap drive.

Hillman said when he saw the restored plane this month, he "just knelt down when I walked up and said, 'Where you been, buddy?'"

Hillman said the engine sounded "great" when he heard it rev up at the Roanoke Regional Airport before Miller departed.

Miller said he had spotted the plane's propeller during a visit to Hillman's home and it took a long time to convince Hillman to sell him what was left of the plane.

"I said, 'what does that prop fit?'" Miller recalled asking. "He said, 'a Taylor Cub.' I said I wanted to buy it, but he wouldn't sell it to me. It took nearly a year before I could talk him into selling it. It didn't have a motor. The wings were gone. No struts. The rotor was gone. It took me 10 years to find all the parts."

It took Miller about 10 years to restore the plane.


Flight delayed for crew drug test

DES MOINES, Iowa, July 3 (UPI) -- Passengers on a delayed U.S. Airways flight out of Des Moines, Iowa, said the flight was further delayed due to a passenger's joke about the crew drinking.

Tina Swail, spokeswoman for U.S. Airways, said the flight bound for Charlotte, N.C., was supposed to leave at 7 a.m. but was delayed for two hours because the inbound plane with the flight's crew had been late and rules state they must receive at least two hours of rest before their next flight, The Des Moines Register reported Monday.

Swail confirmed the plane was further delayed until just after 1 p.m. because of a passenger's comment about crew drinking led officials to administer drug tests, which all crew members passed.

"Any accusation of this sort is taken very seriously and out of an abundance of caution the crew was administered a drug test," Swail said.

Passenger Glenn Clark, who was traveling with his wife, said he heard a passenger boarding the plane ask the crew if they had partied too much last night. He said the man and other passengers laughed at the comment.

"He said it jokingly, and I didn't really think much of it, personally," he said.


Bonfire ban leads to patriotic wall

SCITUATE, Mass., July 3 (UPI) -- A 73-year-old Massachusetts man said a local bonfire ban inspired him to take the wooden pallets he was going to burn and turn them into a patriotic wall.

Robert Graci, 73, of Scituate, said he used the pallets to create a red, white and blue wall complete with a U.S. flag, the Boston Herald reported Monday.

State troopers had ordered him to get rid of the wooden pallets, which were to be used for Fourth of July bonfires on Humarock Beach.

Graci said city workers would violate his liberty and pursuit of happiness if they destroyed the wall.

"And maybe I'll play 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as they do," Graci said. "You've got to stand for what's right. You've got to stand for what you believe in. Our wall is not a protest, we're celebrating the birth of this nation. But they've got a mandate here and they're making no exceptions."

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last month to approve the bonfire ban due to safety concerns and a wind-blown March 8 fire that destroyed four beachfront homes.

Officials said they will remove Graci's wall if it is determined to be a safety hazard.


Elephants fight at Ohio zoo

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 3 (UPI) -- Officials at Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said a fight between two female elephants was the result of a disagreement about disciplining a young herd member.

Dusty Lombardi, the zoo's director of living collections, said Phoebe, mother of 3-year-old Beco, was disciplining her son Sunday and his "aunt," Connie, did not approve of the punishment and fought with Phoebe, The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday.

"It's 100 percent normal behavior that we'll always see with females and a young male," Lombardi said. "What made it noticeable was that Phoebe had broken her tusk in April, it hasn't healed and there was some blood."

He said the elephants were separated for a short time and were reunited once they were found to be free of serious injuries.

"Beco knows how to play Connie and Phoebe, just like a human kid," Lombardi said. "He's a punk. But we want him to be. It's healthy for him."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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