of Hickory, North Carolina
I have been corresponding with Charles ‘Sandy’ McCorkle and his family lately. He is originally from Newton, NC. McCorkle is a WW II legend and it has been an honor to talk to him. His first combat occured when he commanded the 54th Fighter Group flying P-39s in the Aleutian Campaign. A West Point graduate, McCorkle rose to Colonel on 16 Nov 1942 and moved to the MTO to command the 31st FG. There he began flying ‘reverse lend-lease’ Mk. VIII Spitfires. He destroyed 5 enemy aircraft while flying the Spit to become one of only a handful of American Spitfire aces!!! In April 44, the 31st transitioned to the P-51 Mustang and McCorkle got six more kills to become a double ace plus one!!! He continued his USAF career until retiring as a Major General in Sep. 1966. I thought it is just awesome he didn’t realize that the Colling’s Foundation had a P-51 painted in his honor!!! We are doing our humble part here at the museum to help connect the dots of history!!! Here is a message from Sandy:
Greetings from New Hampshire
On New Year’s Eve I received a greeting from Kyle Kirby from the Hickory, North Carolina Aviation Museum telling me that the Collings Foundation owned a restored P-51 painted in my colors.
We looked up the site on the internet and, with advice from my son Matt, found the “Betty Jane” P-51. I was able to watch a video of Jay Leno and Mr. Collings talking about the plane engine with a restored P-51 in the background that looked just like my WWII airplane with our group paint job including the name “Betty Jane.” They took it up and I was able to see it fly.
I am impressed that a plane that old is still around and someone who is as old as I am who flew it is still alive. On the video they said that “Betty Jane” was probably the pilot’s girlfriend but I had Jane write to them to tell them who “Betty” and “Jane” were.
The plane is based in Florida and travels all around the United States to promote WWII history. I am hoping it comes to Pease Air Force Base this summer so I can see it.
If you would like to see the video click on the following address:
Here is a note from Joe Noah:
I just updated a tribute I did last year for Maj Gen Charles M. McCorkle, commander of the 31st Fighter Group in the Mediterranean Theater in WWII, and an ace with 11 victories, that died last month: