Visiting Warbird Park, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: commemorating aviation heritage
Remembering aviators also
This recently dedicated Warbird Park, near S. King's Highway, at Myrtle Beach, in Horry County, is both an educational means of commemorating aviation heritage and also a way of remembering the aviators who flew in the airplane types displayed. A Wall of Honor and informational displays supplement the preserved airframes which are mounted in the Park for display.
This park is sometimes also referred to as Warrior Park.
Airplanes on display
On the display are:
A North American F-100D Super Sabre
An LTV A-7D Corsair II
A Fairchild-Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II
These airplane types were all used at the former Myrtle Beach AFB while attached to the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing. This Wing saw service in the Cold War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and elsewhere.
Myrtle Beach was associated over a long period with military aviation. A US Air Force Base was present for a number of decades; as well as the airplane types now displayed at the Warbird Park, other types stationed there included Shooting Stars.
Earlier, during World War 2, a facility known as Myrtle Beach Army Air Field, later developed by the Air Force, existed for training and for coastal patrols searching for German submarines. A bombing and gunnery range was created as part of the site. This was later expanded as a rocket testing range. Airplane types deployed at Myrtle Beach at the Army Air Field included the Douglas SBD Dauntless , the Bell P-39 Airacobra , and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt .
The Army Air Field during World War 2 also served as a training facility for aviators of other Allied nations such as The Netherlands. The Royal Netherlands Military Flying School had a presence at Myrtle Beach.
Hard to believe, maybe, but when the US Air Force sought in the 1950s to expand the base area to include a local beach for the recreation of Air Force personnel, local politicians sought to prevent this in case some of the personnel were African American; these distasteful efforts by local politicians were, however, unsuccessful.
Local leaders subsequently proved very supportive of the Air Force presence in Myrtle Beach, which became a very significant and longstanding contributor to the local community. When the base finally closed on economic grounds in 1993, there was widespread, local disappointment.
Today, the City of Myrtle Beach maintains Warbird Park in honour of the courage of those of the U S Air Force who served at the former Myrtle Beach AFB, and their families.
Also worth visiting
Myrtle Beach is referred to as the Golf Capital of the World. Its Tanger Malls offer outstanding shopping opportunities. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors' Bureau organizes Canadian-American Days as a strong gesture of welcome to the very large numbers of Canadians who visit or reside in the Myrtle Beach area.
Georgetown (distance: 61 kilometres) is a small, port city with a number of buildings of distinction, included the Prince George Winyah (Episcopal) Church , dating from c. 1750. The nearby Hobcaw Barony is the former home of Bernard S. Baruch , financier and adviser to Presidents.
Murrells Inlet (distance: 27.4 kilometres) is a fishing village known as 'The Seafood Capital of South Carolina'. Nearby are Brookfields Gardens , opened in 1932 and Atalaya Castle , built 1931, both of which may be visited.
How to get there: Myrtle Beach Airport is served by Continental, Delta and US Airways and other airlines from a number of US destinations. Continental flies from New York Newark to Myrtle Beach. Ontarian travellers may find it convenient to use DirectAir which flies from Niagara Falls International Airport to Myrtle Beach Airport, where car rental is available. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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