November 23, 2016 – On November 17 the EAA AirVenture Museum was fortunate to host triple ace Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson for the Museum Speaker Series before a crowd of more than 250 people.
Anderson, EAA 563333, flew P-51 Mustangs in the famed 357th Fighter Group during World War II, accruing 16 1/4 kills. He would go on to become a test pilot and fly more than 100 different types of aircraft, also seeing combat again in the skies over Vietnam in an F-105 Thunderchief.
A new generation of aviation and history enthusiasts were able to hear Anderson’s story firsthand at the presentation, including a 9-year-old history fan named Tyler, who came from Milwaukee with his mother for the presentation. “Bud Anderson is his hero,” she said.
Anderson shared two main lessons that he learned from flying in World War II throughout the evening: that every great undertaking requires multiple people to make it happen and that each member of a team is just as important as the others.
“I would fly into combat, and yes I risked my life, but it was a job that had to be done,” he said. “And I could not have done it without my ground crew. I flew 116 combat missions without a single abort. Not one. If that isn’t a testament to the work they did, then I don’t know what is.”
Those lessons were well-received by attendees of the speaker series, and the audience had the chance to meet him and get his autograph.
At the end of the evening Anderson was presented a special plaque for his dedication to EAA and its museum programs. He was then surprised by the staff with a bottle of Old Crow bourbon whiskey that had a special label featuring his P-51, which he had named Old Crow during the war.
“For all of my church going friends, I told them that Old Crow was named after the smartest bird in the sky,” Anderson said. “Now, my drinking buddies know that it is named after that smooth Kentucky whiskey. Then of course my wife Ellie would tease me that all of these other airplanes were named after wives and girlfriends and all she got was Old Crow.”
Whether it came to sharing kills with his men, or properly giving credit to his ground crew, Anderson is a shining example of the greatest generation.
Col. Bud Anderson’s visit was part of the EAA AirVenture Museum Speaker Series. The series focuses on hosting icons in aviation history and providing visitors a chance to hear their heroes story and meet them afterward. The series takes place at the museum the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. It is free for members and $5 for guests.