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Discover 2012-2013 Saturday,Venice December 1, 2012

Page 24

Venice gets an airport By PAM JOHNSON

to figure out. He hitchhiked to Naples and spent the night in the jail — the only place Sun Air served as the airport’s fixed-base operator in 1971. available to sleep. The next On Oct. 18, 1944, Sarasota day he arrived to find VAAB resident Owen Swartz completely empty. He learned reported to the Venice Army everyone had been evacuated Air Base. to the Sarasota High School The base was newly built for the hurricane. He went to on the south end of town the school, where he stayed for two years earlier. It was one of more than a week. many built in Florida to train When they returned to pilots during World War II. Venice, there was quite a bit Just back from flying in the of wind damage, but nothing South Pacific, Swartz’ next job substantial. would be training pilots on “We lost a tower,” Schwartz fighter aircraft. These were not said. “Some of the airplanes beginner pilots, but airmen that they couldn’t fly out — airplane and fly it up to you there.’” who were honing their skills well, they just put the gear up The next day, Mike Flanagan Meridian, Miss.’” on the nation’s most modern and left them on the ground A hurricane was expected to arrived. aircraft at the time. and none were damaged too He’d been told report to hit the next day and the field “I went to check in and badly. ” VAAB by his superiors at was being cleared. they asked me what kind of Flanagan and members of Jacksonville Naval Air Station “I said, ‘Where is Meridian, airplane I flew,” Swartz recalled. his 598th Engineers, 382nd two days before. How to get “That’s when they said, ‘Go out Miss.?’They said, ‘Just follow the other airplanes, they’ll get there — that was for Flanagan and take number so-and-so AIRPORT | 25 Special to the Gondolier Sun

PHOTO COURTESY OF VENICE ARCHIVES AND AREA HISTORICAL COLLECTION

• VENICE AREA BOARD OF REALTORS “REALTOR OF THE YEAR 2011”

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2012-12-01 VP 24  
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