“Adventure of a Lifetime” - Cannon Student Takes Flight
Posted on 10/14/2021

When Samuel Campos, a 5th-grader at Cannon Elementary, turned in his submission for the “Commemorating the Events of 9/11” contest, hosted by the City of Grapevine, he had no idea what was coming next. Samuel’s artwork was chosen as the grand prize winner because it best answered the contest’s question, “How can the selfless actions of 9/11 first responders inspire you to serve your community?”

What was his grand prize? A ride on board “Southern Cross”, a C-47 World War II-era aircraft, as it flew over Grapevine following the city’s 9/11 20th Anniversary Day of Remembrance Ceremony. The aircraft was one of four on hand that day to pay tribute to the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

Samuel wrote about his experience below:

The plane stood before us, a shade of green that matched the colors of the military camouflage uniform. It was about 18 feet long, and about five feet in width. The title on the front read, “Southern Cross” and a strange picture was on the front. I was excited at first, but I grew more anxious as the time grew nearer. 

After about ten minutes of taking photos and admiring the old but beautifully refurbished plane, it was time to get on. I was shaking as I went up the steps to the inside of the plane. It was hot and I immediately began to fan myself. The plane had big propellers, and I was slightly afraid of the loud sounds, so I chose a seat in the far back of the plane. My father and my grandfather sat next to me. As the plane started, a loud whistling sound filled the plane. Two pilots were in the front and were turning on the plane. By now, you had to scream to be faintly heard. The plane began to move ever so slowly. Since I had never been on a plane before, I didn’t know how to compare the loud sound of this one to that of a commercial plane. However, I was pretty sure this one would be slightly louder. 

The Southern Cross was now on a long runway and was picking up speed. Very slowly, the wings were getting higher. The sound in the plane was earsplitting, but it became a lot smoother as we were in the air. I could see towns all under me, and from a few hundred feet in the air a single house looked like the size of a dice. A bell rang, meaning that we could stand up. My father and grandfather got out of their seats, but I kept still. I was still slightly frightened. While I sat there, I took a small video of which I sent to a few friends a few days later. 

About halfway into the flight, I got the courage to stand up. The plane was slowly wobbling from side to side, almost like an earthquake. I walked (more holding on then walking, though) through the plane to the cockpit. Unlike a normal commercial plane, we had been granted access to see the cockpit while the plane was flying. There was a big hole in the roof that hadn’t been covered, so it was loudly making my hand twitch upward toward it. The hole was meant for somebody to stand on a stepstool and fire a machine gun through while the plane was flying quickly through a field of gunfire from the Axis powers. This was, as you could imagine, dangerous. There was also a radio there that was from the war. A few other items were there, but I was too nervous by standing in the cockpit of a World War II airplane to notice them. 

The bell rang again and we sat back down. A few minutes later, we had a bumpy landing back on the runway. When we got off, I was very happy. For years I had studied the second World War, but I had never dreamed of actually flying in an airplane from it. When we left for home, I thought, “Well that truly was the adventure of a lifetime!”