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Check Six – 1943: Flyover at Yankee Stadium

October 5, 2021

Off the CAF Airbase Arizona Facebook page

Photograph from this Facebook post

While flyovers are common at sporting events today, one particular flyby in 1943 caught spectators and players by surprise as it was totally unplanned! 

Lt. Jack W. Watson of the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and his crew, along with three other crews, were flying to Maine as a stopover enroute to England. As they passed New York City. The 21-year-old freckled-face Watson realized that the World Series was just starting and decided to do an impromptu visit. 

The flight of four Flying Fortresses buzzed Yankee Stadium where the Yankees were taking on the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the 1943 World Series (October 5, 1943). They enjoyed it so much, they decided to make two more passes, on the third pass flying so low, one reporter said it looked like they would clip the stadium’s flag poles

New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who attended the game, was outraged and demanded the USAAF investigate. They did, but given the need for pilots in World War II, the four pilots, including Watson, were given a $75 fine and the matter was dropped.

As for Watson, he would go on to complete 35 missions in the war effort and in a radio interview remarked that he hoped Mayor La Guardia, would forgive him. La Guardia, hearing of Watson’s plea, sent him a cable stating:

“Delighted to get your message. All is forgiven. Congratulations. I hope you never run out of altitude. Happy landings. Will be seeing you soon.”

From → History

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