In 1967, Naval pilot Captain Charlie Plumb, graduate of the US Naval Academy Class of 1964, climbed into the cockpit of his F4 Phantom onboard the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk. He had flown 74 successful combat missions over Vietnam and was five days from returning home to the United States, to his new wife he had just married before deployment. This was to be his last mission.
Captain Plumb would not return to the carrier that day. Taken down by a surface to air missile, he was captured isolated and tortured and would spend the next 5 ½ years as a prisoner of war.
There were many things Captain Plumb dreamed about is his 2103 days as a captive and one of them was returning to the skies he loved. Upon completing his service in the Navy, he tracked down a vintage World War II trainer that had been abandoned and nearly forgotten in an old barn. He spent years restoring it and flies it to this day.
Who knows more the about the cost of Freedom and the hard choices we need to make each and every day to earn that freedom, than those who have served in the face of danger in service for their country? Yet for someone who spent years as a POW, freedom has an especially deep meaning. What prison walls taught Captain Charlie Plumb is that no chains can prevent us from chosing each and every day who we want to be.
We use the metaphor of this true life endeavor and his love of flight to ask questions about the freedoms we value and the choices we make that earn those freedoms with honor.