It Wasn’t Combat, But Flying Weather Reconnaissance Missions In Wartime Was No Day At The Beach

Pilots who tracked the weather during World War II had their share of close calls.

May 29, 2017 4:56 pm| ,

When Robert Kenney showed up in 1942 to take a test to find out what job the Army would give him, things didn’t seem to be going well. He had an attack of appendicitis, and was rushed to the hospital.

But something about Kenney must have impressed the testers, because they made him an officer – a flight engineer on a B-17.

Kenney’s good fortune continued. He wasn’t sent into combat, which had been the plan. His plane was pulled out of a wing of 30 planes, and tasked to fly weather reconnaissance missions – reporting conditions to military pilots in Europe. But Kenney says his missions were far from safe.

“We had a lot of close calls,” he says. “Our unit lost several planes in weather reconnaissance because they couldn’t land. We went into Goose Bay Labrador once, and didn’t see the runway until the wheels touched the ground.”