Frances Rohrich got the chance of a lifetime Sunday when she and her daughter, Janis Seward, took a ride in the World War II-era B-24 Liberator plane that spent most of the past week at Akron Fulton International Airport.
Rohrich’s husband, Eugene, piloted the same planes in the Pacific Theater, and although the B-24 was designed to serve as a bomber, his particular plane was responsible for taking aerial photos of the terrain.
“He didn’t talk about his missions ever,” Seward said. “However, he did talk about flying that plane and how fascinating he found it, how hard it was to fly and how cramped he found it.”
Seward said she found out about the possibility of taking flights in the B-24 after reading an article Wednesday about the plane being in town.
Initially, Seward thought her mom would shoot down the idea of flying in the plane, but when Seward approached her 90-year-old mother about it, she was nothing but excited.
“I really thought she would say no,” Seward said. “But she didn’t want to miss the chance. She was so excited to be able to witness for herself what she only heard about all of those years.”
This particular aircraft, known as Diamond Lil, was No. 18 of more than 18,000 that were manufactured. It is the only A-model version still in existence.
While it never saw combat or went on missions, it tours the United States and Canada, participating in air shows and offering tours about nine months out of the year.
The other three months are spent in maintenance in Fort Worth, Texas, the plane’s home base, where it is completely taken apart and serviced.
Fort Worth also marks the location of where Frances and Eugene Rohrich were married, on Dec. 24, 1943, after which they moved to different cities around the United States every two months so Eugene could finish his Air Force training.
When he was assigned to active duty, a pregnant Frances returned home to Akron and their son was nearly a year old before Eugene saw him for the first time.
Though Eugene Rohrich died Aug. 25, 1994, Frances was sure he was “looking down on her” and smiling as she boarded what he called a “quirky” airplane.
By Katie Nix - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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