We all honor and revere our heroes in the military, particularly those who put themselves in danger on the front lines of battle for the sake of freedom and the American way. Those warriors include infantrymen coming almost face to face with the enemy, seamen fighting on the oceans, and pilots dogfighting above the clouds, but there’s a group who’s history is has gone unsung – the brave warriors who soar across the sky without an engine!
These brave men who piloted one-way missions in gliders or “Flying Coffins” landed behind enemy lines amid sniper fire and then joined in the fight. The gliders were considered expendable and were loaded with troops and cargo weighing up to 4000 pounds. The relatively slow glide of the gliders as they came in for their landing allowed troops and equipment to be unloaded at one place instead of parachuting equipment in pieces and troops separately.
Since the gliders didn’t have engines, they were America’s first stealth planes. They came in quietly, but slowly. Because they gliders moves slow in comparison to a regular airplane, combined with the fact that they were landing behind enemy lines made them easy targets if they were spotted by the enemy. Glider occupants were told to sit on their flak jackets while in the air to prevent getting hit from enemy fire shooting upwards as the glider flew past.
These heroes of the Second World War are memorialized and honored at the Silent Wings Museum in Lubbock, Texas. The address is 6202 Interstate 27 Service Rd, Lubbock, TX 79403. Be sure to stop in and learn something new about World War II.