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White Lightnin' Reno AIr Races 1995


Lefty Gardner got his hands on this Lockheed P38 Lightning soon after WWII and named her White Lightnin'.
In fact, Lefty was instrumental in the founding of Unlimited Air Racing and the Confederate Air Force.
Her racing number is Number 13

When Lety stopped racing White Lightning, he continued exhibition flying at Air Shows and the Reno Air Races to the delight of his fans, like me.
I grew up in the US Air Force and the Lockheed P38 has always been my favorite airplane.

I attended the 1995 Reno event, excited at the prospect of seeing Lefty at the controls. I wasn't disappointed, that man in that bird is poetry in motion.
The roar of those twin engines and Lefty's smooth as silk maneuvers not only got my heart racing, but brought tears to my eyes.

I shot pictures of his flybys until I ran out of film hoping I got at least one good shot.

My buddy Bill and I, we're both Air Force Brats, took a walk in the pits to check out the planes closeup, and we got to meet Lefty .
What a nice man, it was a real pleasure.

While we were talking, two men stopped on the taxi way and were looking over at White Lightnin'. The older of the two had that wistful look in his eyes that is obvious to a vet or a brat.
The younger man came over and began talking to Lefty's lovely wife.
She came over to us, excusing herself for interrupting, and said that the older man had been a P38 Crew Chief in Africa during WWII, and that his son would give Leftywhatever he wanted to give his dad a ride.

Bill and I gave each other that knowing look, that something very special was about to happen.

Lefty called over his Crew Chief and told him to fuel her up.
Lefty excused himself, telling us it was nice to meet us, and went to talk to the two men.
He handed a helmet to the Old Crew Chief, and they walked on over to White Lightnin and saddled up.
For the next hour and a half, they flew all over that Nevada desert.

Once again, Lefty brought tears to my eyes.

When the slides came back, I eagerly flipped through them until I got to this shot. The hair on the back of my neck bristled as I realized that I too had been given a rare gift from God and from Lefty Gardner.

There was Lefty, framed by clouds that formed a giant 13 in the sky.

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Photo © Copyright Michael Mahoney 1995 All Rights Reserved.
Blueyonder © Copyright Michael Mahoney 2006 All Rights Reserved.