WWII Boeing-Stearman officially retires with water salute

Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, Inc. has announced that the future centerpiece of the Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial at the Scottsdale Airport, a World War II era Boeing-Stearman PT-17, was officially retired Saturday, May 12.

A World War II era Boeing-Stearman PT-17 that was retired at Scottsdale Airport Saturday, May 12. (Submitted Photo)

The ceremony, a traditional water salute, was outside Ross Aviation at 14600 N. Airport Drive. Tbird II is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization with the goal of preserving the history of aviation in Scottsdale and all military veterans, a press release states.

The water salute is an airport tradition to honor military veterans, foreign dignitaries and aircraft entering or retiring from service. Salutes typically involve two firefighting rigs spraying arcs of water over an arriving or departing flight.

Each water cannon salute, which lasts one-two minutes, can use as much as 3,000 gallons of water, so it involves the airport’s fire department resources, according to a press release.

Steve Ziomek, a former U.S. Coast Guard rescue pilot and chairman of the Thunderbird Field II Veterans Memorial, piloted the Stearman. On board was memorabilia commemorating the life of the late Capt. Jerry Yellin, the last fighter pilot.

Mr. Yellin flew his first flight at 19 years old in a Stearman in 1942 at Thunderbird Field II in Scottsdale. Mr. Yellin’s last flight was on Nov. 9, 2017, at the Scottsdale Airport in this Stearman bi-plane.

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