Veterans Air Express Prague 1946

Upcoming 70th anniversary of

Veterans Air Express Prague flight…

Veterans Air Express Prague pilot explains the temperature requirements for safely delivering the hatching eggs.

Jarmila Novotna, Czech diva at the Met, christened the Veterans Air Express DC-4 that would fly the Prague hatching egg deliverie. She speaks here with George E. Cannock, VAE Prague pilot. Photo credit: AIR TRANSPORTATION, May 1946, Pg 8.

Packing crates for historic VAE Prague delivery. First time that any foreign commercial plane had overflown the Russian zone.

Five ton cargo equals 66,000 hatching eggs! Transported in DC-4s by Veterans Air Express to Prague and Warsaw; three and two flights respectively. Photo credit: FLYING Magazine, Dec 1946, Pg 3.

 

May 1946

In May 1946, the Veterans Air Express Prague flight was logged as its second of three UNRRA flights to that city. Each time, the DC-4 crews delivered five tons of hatching eggs to restore the country’s war-demolished hatcheries.

Saunie Gravely with his five year old daughter, Gaye Lyn. The week she was born, a Veterans Air Express DC-3 was christened with her name.

Saunie and Gaye Lyn Gravely.

May 2016

In May 2016, to celebrate that adventure of 70 years earlier, I will be in Prague.  Saunie’s little girl, all grown up, will undoubtedly weep on the occasion of stepping off a train into Prague’s city center.

Our arrival date was not planned to coincide.  I’d say it was coincidental — except I don’t believe in coincidences! Only after our route was set and EuroPass purchased did I realize the connection to the historic Veterans Air Express Prague trip.

I wish I knew where the crews bunked in 1946.  Since I do not, Harry and I will stay in the heart of Old Town with the Astronomical Clock around the corner — in a sparkling apartment all to ourselves for four days.

Prague plays role in my history, too!

It seems Prague will play an unexpected second role in my own history — first in 1946 and soon in 2016.

The Czech Republic is famous for art glass production, and has been for generations.  According to Air Transportation (May 1946), the return cargo from the second Veterans Air Express Prague flight was 300 pounds of sample cut glass for 40 distributors in the U.S.

During our stay this coming May, my husband and I will also make a day-trip 70 miles north of Prague by train to visit a glass foundry. Harry is in search of world-famous Czech expertise and bravado in the production of his cast glass sculptures. He’s preparing for someday, as dreamed, when we live in Italy two or three months a year.  With a foundry lined up, Harry could then bring his completed wax designs to them for casting!!! We’re always plotting…

Saunie’s birthday – March 19.

Saunie Gravely_WV Boy

While I’m anticipting Prague in May,  I am thinking about my Dad’s birthday this week.  He would have been 93 years old.

When he was growing up in the hills of West Virgina, I wonder if he had even an inkling of the dream he would materialize?  I wonder if he pictured a daughter he had not yet dreamed of that would trace his footsteps 70 years later?  Who, like Nancy Drew, would piece together the clues  that were, and remain, his Veterans Air Express?

A tribute to you, Daddy.  And sweet and loving wishes on your Day.

 


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Then & There…

A RECOMMENDED READ and irreplaceable for me: "Memories of the Jing Bao & Beyond," Authors Choice Press, 2001. Written by our own JACK Z. STETTNER - Veterans Air Express Co-Founder, Investor, Pilot and Operations Manager. As well as his considerable WWII experiences, Jack's book revealed new details about Veterans Air Express...plus the spirit and character of this organization that Jack obviously loved!