ALS squadron leader Gene Jensen flew his L-4 Piper Cub to DeRidder, Louisiana—site of the former DeRidder Army Air Base—to participate in a event held there commemorating the birthplace of liaison aviation. Leading up to the U.S. entry into WWII, light aircraft such as the Piper Cub were run through test routines to prove their application on the battlefields and flying low in support of ground forces. Louisiana was one of several locations where these military “maneuvers” were held in 1940, and again in the Fall of 1941.
KPLC 7 News, November 7, 2016, by Maranda Whittington:
You could say 75-year-old retired Air Force officer, Gene Jensen has a passion for planes.
“I don’t remember not wanting to fly,” said Jensen.
Jensen owns this [Piper L-4] Grasshopper used in World War II.
He spent 5 hours flying this plane from San Antonio to Beauregard Regional Airport in DeRidder for a special reason. “This is the historical starting point for these airplanes,” said Jensen.
Planes like Jensen’s were used during the Louisiana Maneuvers in the 1940s.
“(This) airplane only weighs about 800 pounds, has no armor, no defense and carries no weapons,” he said. But one thing does surprise him.
“The number of people who don’t know the connection between this airfield and this airplane,” he said.
Jensen spent 6 years restoring the plane, and for him his favorite thing about flying is the freedom. He also enjoys seeing the country through a stunning view
“…We just poked a long and enjoyed the scenery and saw the country,” he said.
He also never flies without his favorite companion, his bear.
“He flies with me everywhere,” said Jensen.
His age doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves even though some family members, particularly his sister, has some concerns.
“She keeps saying Gene, you’re 75 when are you going to stop flying and I say well when I can’t find anybody who will lift me in or out of the airplanes,” said Jensen.
Flying this plane reminds Jensen that some qualities will never be forgotten.
“Service with a purpose even if it causes us to sacrifice that’s a wonderful human trait.”
WWII plane flies into DeRidder