Fragile Artifact Tells Brutal Story

By Eric Olson

April 11, 2014 Updated Apr 11, 2014 at 11:04 AM EDT

AUBURN, In (21Alive)--It’s been called the best kept secret in Northeast Indiana. Auburn’s Hoosier Air Museum’s impressive collection of historic aircraft, military uniforms and other artifacts of war tells the story of America’s roll in combat across the globe. And now the museum is writing a new chapter in that story.
This is the museum’s newest artifact, an original Pratt Reid glider..a fragile wood and cloth flying machine that helped the allies win World War Two. In 1944, after the D-day invasion of German occupied France, thousands of engineless gliders carrying tens of thousands of Allied troops were dropped behind enemy lines, usually at night..catching the Nazis off guard. The mission’s verged on suicide…hundreds of gliders and the men they carried didn’t survive…but many of the pilots who flew these missions were trained on Pratt Ried’s, including the one at the Hoosier Air Museum. This one was found in a Dekalb County barn.
“Raccoons had nests in it, the mice had homesteaded the entire wing, both of them,” says Larry Stone, the man who restored the glider. “It almost became a bonfire.”
Stone restored the glider for display purposes only..it will never fly again. He says the glider will eventually hang from the rafters of the museum hanger, reminding us all of the role this little aircraft played in a dangerous, often deadly attack on a brutal enemy..at an overwhelmingly tragic cost. Eric olson reporting out in 21 Country.

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