Our Palouse Pilot
In the week leading up to “Neighbor Day” at Felts Field, Spokane, Washington, a series of emails shared the flying history of a gentleman who survived 67 combat missions piloting a B-25 with the 486th Bomb Squadron over and around Corsica. On my desk appeared a book entitled Palouse Pilot autographed by its hero and my new friend, Scott Rohwer. An accompanying note in the handwriting of another person confirmed an appointment in the Felts Field Skyline Cafe on June 7 for lunch. Two loving sons, one a Boeing engineer, had organized the meeting between their father and me. Later emails including one on the 6th called into question our lunch date as Mr. Rohwer’s health would ebb and flow. But when the time came, “Scotty” wheeled into the cafe with both boys, now men in their 60s.
After lunch we gave “dad” a wheelchair tour around the outside of our B-25 “Grumpy,” and asked if he wanted to join the first group of patrons planning to fly with us. At first he asked for a “rain check,” then suggested that one of his sons might join the crew. A few minutes later and just before the flight, Mr. Rohwer summoned me with a waving gesture to explain there was something I could do for him. A resident of Rockwood Retirement Community in Spokane’s Lincoln Heights neighborhood, several of his fellow residents were to gather that afternoon at 1:45 in the garden adjacent the entrance. “They don’t even know what a B-25 is. Give ’em something to talk about at dinner.” That we did. The Rockwood Retirement Community is about 30-degrees south of the departure heading. Suffice it to say a fair bit of scrambling and waving could be seen from the cockpit.
Both sons returned the next day. We gave the second his ride. Dad didn’t make it so I asked about his condition. He was fine, but tired. When he returned to Rockwood on the previous evening, he enjoyed rock star status and told war stories well into the night.