Jim McCubbin, a 101-year-old U.S. Air Force pilot and hero, took a step back in time June 3 as he watched a restored P-51 Mustang taxi toward him at the Richard B. Russell airport in Rome.
McCubbin knows the plane well. He flew the aircraft during World War II and is credited with destroying nine enemy planes before being shot down in 1945 and becoming a prisoner of war.
The special visit was arranged by the Commemorative Air Force Airbase Georgia and Catie Mason, resident services director at Renaissance Marquis Retirement Village in Rome where McCubbin lives.
Mason said she wanted to honor McCubbin in a special way.
A round of applause broke out from dozens of residents of the retirement village in attendance as Airbase Georgia pilot Craig Hutain made his way around the airport’s apron in the P-51. Many of residents were also U.S. veterans who were recognized in the day’s ceremonies.
“This is why we do what we do,” said Airbase Georgia leader Joel Perkins. “Our mechanics, pilots and many other volunteers keep these planes flying so we can honor our veterans, educate the younger generation about the accomplishments of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ and inspire more youth to become involved in aviation.”
McCubbin was escorted to the side of a P-51 one more time, and posed to “recreate” an old photo showing him standing next to his aircraft in the 1940s.
CAF Airbase Georgia Warbird Museum, based in Peachtree City, was founded in 1987. The Airbase is one of the largest units of the Commemorative Air Force. The group maintains and flies seven vintage military aircraft including a P-51 Mustang, an FG-1D Corsair, an SBD Dauntless, and a P-63A Kingcobra. The airbase, which is composed of more than 400 volunteers, has hosted WWII Heritage Days since 2003.
The organization is also a founding partner of the Georgia WWII Heritage Trail launched in 2021. The Airbase is part of the CAF, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that relies on contributions of time and funds to carry out its mission. For more information, visit www.airbasegeorgia.org/.
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