U.S. Air Force veterans visit aircraft museum for the first time

PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - 11 News went along with two retired air force pilots taking a look at some retired air force planes.

"That's a 119 right there. The piper cub is the first plane I ever flew in the air force. I was only at Mariana Air Force Base for two weeks. The first one of these, the strut broke off, the pilot and the instructor were lost, and I'm thinking, 'This is a hell of a way to start your primary pilot training, losing an instructor and a pilot,'” Joe Petkash said.

Maj. Petkash is 86 years old; Lt. Col. Ralph Schoenbauer is 90. They were both pilots from the late 50s into the 70s. The Weisbrod Aircraft Museum has been open since 1972, but this was the two veterans’ first visit to the pueblo museum.

“I tell my wife, and a lot of times I say, 'Anybody that has been a military pilot for any length of time, they are going to have some pretty good war stories to tell, no exceptions.' I flew the F-86 for almost 10 years. I could sit here and tell you stories and some really bad ones, there are some I shouldn't be here. There was one of them I should've bailed out of it. Some of them are bad ones: when I was down at Tyndall Air Force Base, I was walking to my car, looked up to see a pillar of black smoke coming up 1 mile short of the runway. Navy, Navy. I did my intercepts, came back and went back to tower over the Gulf of Mexico, turned around, and I saw this fire down there. The crew chief jumped up on my airplane and he said that airplane crashed,” Petkash said.

The Weisbrod Aircraft Museum has been open since 1972, but this was the two veterans’ first visit to the pueblo museum.

“That was Sully, that was the fire, and I walked back into the ops shop and I open the door and looked over and there is Sully sitting,” Ralph Schoenbauer said.

“Was that your airplane?” 11 News Chief Photographer Mike Petkash asked.

“Yes, that was me, and then he told me the story right after he took off; he was having engine trouble. Here is another plane that I got checked out. Is it a DC3C C-47. I get all the fun and the other guy says, 'That is going to change someday, I'm going to turn around and shoot that son of a b**** down,'” Schoenbauer said.

The museum has two hangars, one with aircrafts dating back to WWI, WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam War.

“Do you know what type missile is on the wing tip of the F-16, is that a sidewinder?” Joe Petkash said.

“That is a sidewinder. Flew down by Socorro, and he said, 'Have you ever been supersonic?' I never have. 'He said, well, you were going to now,' pumped up the throttle and there's no humans down there to complain about the sonic boom, so the only time in my life that I’ve ever been supersonic. This is it, this is the one that I flew for almost 20 years, wow, good old bird,” Schoenbauer said.

The museum is located at 31001 Magnuson Ave. in Pueblo. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. On Sundays, they’re open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.