• Image of four aviators at leisure, playing cribbage

    Aleutian World War II

    National Historic Area Alaska

John Pletcher

John Pletcher served as an Army Air Corp Reserve pilot during World War II. He entered the Aviation Cadet training program on November 10, 1939 at the age of 24 years.

In this interview he talks about his experiences as a B-18 and B-26 pilot in the Aleutians from March 1941-February 1943 as a member of the 73rd Bomb Squadron.

 
Past and modern photos of John Pletcher
Images of John Pletcher
 

The complete interview, including audio and text transcripts with images, is available in five large sections:

It is also available in much smaller sections, broken down below.

 
  1. Typical winter flying gear in the Aleutians, B-26, various models audio / transcript
  2. As a B-26 instructor in Florida and Louisiana, B-26 as tow target airplanes, General Electric testing of the B-29, flying tow targets in the B-24, instructing in the B-29 audio / transcript
  3. Special Alaska modifications for the B-26 audio / transcript
  4. Thanksgiving Day mission to Attu, P-38 fighter escort, B-24 weather ships, low fuel landing audio / transcript
  5. Flying in fog, Aleutian weather, radio aids to navigation, replacing the B-26 with the B-25, B-26 fuel tank replacement audio / transcript
  6. B-24 weather ship overshooting the runway , mission to Kiska, B-26 getting shot by Japanese on Kiska audio / transcript
  7. Assessing the damage to the B-26 from hit audio / transcript
  8. Young guy handling the pressure of missions, B-26 primarily a patrol airplane, how bombing runs were conducted by B-26, B-17 and B-24, return to base, low on fuel audio / transcript
  9. Scavenging wrecked airplanes for parts, maintaining the P-39, Marston matting audio / transcript
  10. Nearly missing an airplane on the runway, problems with the Curtiss propellers on the B-26, patrolling from Umnak to Adak audio / transcript
  11. Transitioning from the B-18 to the B-26, young guys coping with responsibility audio / transcript
  12. Losing classmates and friends in aircraft accidents, flying on instruments with Colonel Eareakson audio / transcript
  13. Flying on instruments to Nome with Brady Golden audio / transcript
  14. Having confidence in the pilot, bad pilots audio / transcript
  15. Skill in instrument flying, training B-26 pilots and B-17 and B-29 instructor training, testing the bomb audio / transcript
  16. Entering the Army Air Corp, aviation cadet training, pay, basic trainers audio / transcript
  17. Assignment to the 73rd bomb squadron, confusion between the 37th and 73rd bomb squadron, the 73rd bomb squadron audio / transcript
  18. Views on being sent to Alaska, learning the ropes from veteran Alaskan bush pilots audio / transcript
  19. Caring for aircraft engines in winter, pilot responsibilities, flight engineer responsibilities, transferring fuel audio / transcript
  20. Bomber escorts audio / transcript
  21. Remembering the day Dutch Harbor was attacked audio / transcript
  22. Reputation of the B-26, flying the B-26, technique for making short landings in the B-26 audio / transcript
  23. Slowing the B-26 down on the ground, advantages of the B-17 on the ground, instructing in the B-17 in Louisiana, flying the ILS audio / transcript
  24. Alaska as an over-seas assignment audio / transcript
  25. B-26 and B-25s in the South Pacific, B-17s in Europe audio / transcript
  26. Living at Cold Bay, tents and stoves, stove fire, living at Adak, building a Quonset hut audio / transcript
  27. Mess hall, segregation audio / transcript
  28. Sleeping in the airplane, then in a pup tent, mess hall, mess kit, food, cleaning your dishes, tundra audio / transcript
  29. Passing time when not flying, mail audio / transcript
 

Did You Know?

Photo of a building, parking lot

The Ounalashka Corporation was established in 1973 as the Alaska Village Corporation for Unalaska. This corporation was one of many Native Alaskan corporations that were formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.