She sat there with her silvery skin, inviting to fly us down to Rio — that is Rio Grande, New Jersey. She promised an adventure in the air and we bit. We’ll never regret it either. The Yankee Lady, a 1946, B-17 bomber equipped with turrets and 13 guns paid a visit to Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW) Aviation Museum June 10-12.
Foul weather kept her on the ground for the first day of her visit. An oil leak in engine number one allowed her only one flight during her stay, and luckily we were aboard. Her crew, with help from NASW’s tools, lift and volunteers sent the B-17 to her next destination after two days of repairs with a part shipped from Arkansas.
A plane breaking down at NASW was a first, said Dr Joe Salvatore, Chairman and Executive Director of the museum.
“This was the right place to do the repair,” said Salvatore, noting NASW was originally built as an aircraft repair facility during World War II. “We have all the equipment.”
The B-17 is a four-engine bomber that helped win World War II. She was not set up for the comfort of her occupants. She sat on the taxiway at the county airport and shook as her engines revved to high rpm. Our seat was made of canvas and the seat belt was complicated enough to trap us in the seat for a few minutes after takeoff.
Crew Chief Norm Ellickson briefed passengers before boarding the plane. He told us we only needed to stay in our seats during takeoff and landing. We roamed to the glass nose used by a gunner, stood beside the bomb bay doors and walked into the cockpit standing behind the pilots.
The plane had three pilots on board including twin brothers Jon and Jeff Rule who have flown commercial jets for more than 40 years. Another pilot, Duane Nelson, was at the controls while Jeff Rule talked to the passengers on this flight.
Taking off from the county airport made us feel as if we were back in World War II and a part of a bombing mission as we rolled by NASW’s hangar and past the line of Caribou planes at Penn Turbo Aviation’s hangar. You don’t realize how rural Cape May County is until you fly over it and discover we live in a forested area between two bodies of water.
In between the bay and ocean, the back bays and grass lands appear in serpentine patterns. You soon discover water towers are your best landmarks, the MUA tower at the airport, the freshly painted Madison Avenue tower in Cape May and the Coast Guard base tower.
Other landmarks on the ground were visible on the flight: the Garden State Parkway, Morey’s Pier, Wildwoods Convention Center, Lund’s Fisheries, the Canyon Club, Cape May Convention Hall and the ferry terminal.
A hatch over the radio room was left open in flight so we could poke our heads out of the top of the plane and experience a 150 mile per hour breeze.
“That’s our air conditioning,” joked Elickson. “We have overhead cables, please don’t pull on those, it upsets the pilots.”
The sky from that vantage point looked bluer than we ever remember. The plane flies at an altitude of about 1,000 feet, so passengers can see the ground and area landmarks.
“So we can see everything, we’re just going 150-160 miles per hour,” said Jon Rule.
The bomb bay doors were opened in flight just off the coast of Wildwood offering a view of the ocean below as we stood by separated only by a chain.
Sitting behind the big gun in the in the glassed-in nose turret brought to mind one of the crafts in Star Wars. We felt like Luke Skywalker blasting fighters from the Empire.
Jeff Rule explained most of the B-17s were left in Europe after the war and were scrapped. Only nine B-17’s still fly. The Yankee Lady had several other careers including a stint with the Coast Guard and private ownership doing aerial surveying and dropping fire-retardant chemicals on forest fires. She appeared in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora.
The Yankee Museum in Belleville, MI purchased the B-17 in 1985. Restoring the plane took nine years. It arrived at the museum’s hangar with fire retardant storage tanks, no guns or turrets and some less than regulation sheet metal repairs, said Jeff.
The flight finished with what must have been the smoothest landing in history, nothing like the bouncy touchdowns of jetliners that sometimes make you count your teeth when the plane stops.
The Rule brothers are sons of a World War II pilot. They were introduced to the plane by another commercial airline pilot. Jon said he takes vacation time from Delta Airlines to pilot the B-17.
He said he flies the restored B-17 because she is dedicated to the pilots of World War II.
Let’s face the facts. If you live near the water, your premiums for Federal Flood Insurance are probably going up. Forget about Hurricane Sandy. She is not to blame. Higher flood insurance rates were in the works before Sandy produced her first raindrop.
If you want to blame someone for coming increases in your flood insurance, blame Congress. They passed the Biggers-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. For many homeowners, the federal government was subsidizing the cost of purchasing flood insurance. That will stop.
The legislation will increase flood insurance premiums by 25 percent per year until they reach the actual cost. The idea of very expensive flood insurance premiums has homeowners worried and municipalities as well. Towns do not want to see “For Sale” signs gracing properties on every street near the water.
Cape May City Council held a special meeting on June 15, a Saturday morning, and invited representatives from FEMA to address the issues of rising flood insurance premiums and new flood maps scheduled to be released for Cape May County by the end of July. Convention Hall was half full of mainly second home-owners.
Patrick Holloway, a FEMA risk map outreach specialist, told the audience the agency has raw data but has not completed its analysis for Cape May County in order to release preliminary flood insurance rate maps.
FEMA has placed maps on its website for property owners that sustained storm damage. Those maps are going away to be replaced by Preliminary Work Maps which will lead up to Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps, according to Holloway.
You will have to wait a bit longer for the final information on which flood zone your home is located in and how high your flood insurance rates may rise.
The Preliminary Work Maps will include “overland wave modeling,” and take into consideration erosion of dunes. If you live in a V-zone, your property is deemed to have the possibility of being impacted by the “velocity of water.”
Holloway said Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps will also include information for those who live near Delaware Bay. He said it is expected some V-zones on the bay side will become A-zones, which are defined as having a one percent annual chance of being flooded and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.
After the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps are issued for our county, an open house will be held, giving homeowners an opportunity to review the information. That opens a 90-day appeal process for those who do not agree with the maps.
New flood insurance rates will go in effect in 2015 after local communities adopt the maps, said Holloway.
Dewana Davis, an insurance specialist with the National Flood Insurance Program, noted Cape May had a large population of persons owning a second home. She said second homeowners would be affected first by the flood insurance changes.
The Biggers Waters Act will cause a 20 percent increase in premiums annually for those who have their primary residence in Cape May if they sell their home, if their flood insurance lapses and they buy a new policy or if their property become substantially damaged by a storm, she said. The annual 20 percent increases will continue until the flood insurance rate reflects the actuary rates, what flood insurance should actually cost if it was not subsidized, said Davis.
Owners of vacation homes or commercial properties will begin to see an increase in their premiums at renewal time as of October 2013. The increase will be 25 percent annually until it reaches the actuarial rates.
Homes with flood insurance based on an elevation certificate will not see an increase in their premiums, said Davis.
The flood insurance changes only apply to those living in A- and Z- zones. If you live in a B-or X-zone, you will not experience the rate increases.
Let’s imagine you currently live in a home in an area with a base flood elevation of 10 feet and your house sits at eight feet. There’s no requirement to elevate your house unless it is substantially damaged, said Davis. The bad news such a situation will affect your insurance premiums.
Flood insurance policies will treat historical structures the same as other homes if they fall short of base flood elevation meaning higher premiums. Owners of historical homes are not required to raise the elevation of their homes, said Davis.
FEMA will assist a homeowner in keeping their historic status if they decide to raise the elevation of their old home. Funding may be available from the Hazard Mitigation Program.
After maps are issued for Cape May County next month, homeowners can call the New Jersey Flood Insurance Helpline: 877-287-9804 for sample rates.
The Perfect Stage
PERHAPS the greatest summer sin a kid can commit is to waste away the next three months on video games or trips to the nearest mall.
Enter Cape May Stage’s Discovery Theatre Camps, which don’t just fill a little bit of the void left by another school year ended but, in doing so, empower kids in more ways than one.
“Kids have stories that are important, and not necessarily heard by their peers or adults,” says Camp Director Beth Ryan Troxell. “Getting up on stage provides an opportunity for them to be heard. They learn that they can belong and be someone, not necessarily actors, but people who can invent or reinvent themselves. That’s very powerful.”
Beth — founder of Hill Actors on Stage, an after-school program which allows children to perform the classics, and a full-time teacher of drama at Milton Hershey, a residential school for at-risk students in Pennsylvania — says she’s thrilled to be leading Cape May Stage’s Discovery Camps for the second year running, as last year was such a memorable experience… both for the participants, and for her.
“Having a student write you a note at the end of her time that says ‘Now I know what I want to do with my life’… that can change your whole outlook,” she told us.
As for the students who may not be too keen on this whole drama thing?
“That doesn’t throw me off,” she says. “At the school where I teach full-time, every student has to take drama at one point or another, so I’m used to the moaning and groaning, and you have to be sensitive to that. You just take the time to figure out how a kid who is terribly shy, for instance, fits into the whole dynamic.”
A dynamic that includes creative game playing, story-telling, acting, and playwrighting… meaning there is a great deal of niches to be found.
“Watching them find their voices,” Beth says, “that’s extraordinary.”
Cape May Stage’s Discovery Summer Theatre Camp runs July 2-5 and July 9-12 with a Radio camp from August 6-9. (Troxell in collaboration with WCFA will broadcast student voices in an exciting radio play for all to hear.) Students ages nine through 12 will meet from 9am until noon and campers ages 13 through 16 will meet from 1pm until 4pm. All sessions will take place at Cape May Stage’s Robert Shackleton Playhouse located at the corner of Bank & Lafayette Streets. Students may opt to enroll for one week or may choose to build upon their first experience and participate in both sessions.
The cost of enrollment is $185 per week. A 10% discount is available for registering a sibling and/or for the second week of enrollment. Enrollment is limited to 15 campers per each session. For more information, log onto Cape May Stage’s Education webpage at capemaystage.com/education.html, or contact the box office at 609-884-1341.