And there's a group of folks right here in Sioux Falls who are bringing a key piece of World War 2 history back to life in a very authentic way.
This is a story that begins...in 1943.
Its propeller is made of wood. Its body a type of aeronautic canvas, framed by light metal posts. This baby purrs like a kitten....and doesn't show a bit of it's age.
"This airplane was built in 1943..." John Mollison is the Public Affairs Officer for the Joe Foss Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force.
It's a nationwide group that keeps World War 2 era planes in running shape.
The local squadron had the desire to do this work, but..."We also needed to get an airplane...and so this is the airplane that we got."
That airplane....a Stinson L5 Sentinel...a recon plane...meant to give generals a birds eye view of battlefield and it could carry one injured solider on a stretcher in a pinch. And ironically for a war plane....no guns. "There's about 300 L5's left, this is one of about 150 that are flying."
But the Joe Foss Squadron didn't just want to get a plane and then call it done.
They wanted it to have an even more authentic look to it.
And that required a simple paint brush and some really simple paint. "We want to capture this look of crude and capture this look of authentic and like the weathering of the colors and how they had to stop in mid-stream and do a sortie and then come back and finish."
Paint jobs back in the war were done by Average Joes....with whatever paint might be laying around. They were not fancy. "These planes were named and painted by people who just wanted to name the plane...maybe they were bored between sorties or something."
But it was those imperfect paint jobs...that gave these planes their character...and gave their crews more of a connection to them.
This plane is being named "Joe's Jokers"....in honor of their squadron namesake...World War 2 pilot and former South Dakota Governor Joe Foss. "We can all be the jokers, that's kind of cool."
And when this plane was officially unveiled...with World War 2 vets in attendance....it took everyone back in time...it bonded all of them together. "It's our bird. It's our girl so to speak and she's representative of Joe's Jokers."
So why go to all the work of keeping this World War 2 era plane running?
It is to remember a time when the nation came together in the name of defeating aggressive evil.
Planes like the L5....and the people who piloted them...are the reason Adolph Hitler's quest for power...failed.