Tucked away in a small airplane hangar in the little town of Granite Falls, Minnesota, sits a piece of American history. Nearly restored to its World War II state, the “Twilight Tear” P51D mustang lives up to its 1944 Horse of the Year namesake with speed, agility and sheer beauty. But the road to restoration wasn’t an easy one, and it wouldn’t have happened without the dedication from The Fagen Family of Granite Falls, Minnesota.
As we inch closer to the day when the last WWII veteran passes away, this documentary taps into the Herculean efforts of “warbird” enthusiasts like The Fagan’s who devote their lives to lovingly restoring the aircraft of that great war—right down to the paint on the nose cone. The men who flew these planes gave them names for a reason. To them, they were more than planes. They were friends, comrades, almost family. Using the story of the Twilight Tear’s journey, this film will capture the passion that people feel for these rare planes—and the care they take to restore them to their former glory.
FAGEN FIGHTER WWII MUSEUM
Fagen Fighters WWII Museum, the newest museum in Granite Falls is located at the Lenzen-Roe Memorial Airport. Construction began in April of 2011. Recently completed, the museum consists of two hangars, a WWII Quonset hut and a WWII control tower. The newest hangar and flagship of the museum is a 15,000 sq. ft. brick tornado-proof structure.
Enter the museum and be transported in time to the 1940’s era for a WWII experience. The museum is home to the pristine collection of WWII trainer and fighter aircraft restored and owned by Fagen Fighters. The collection includes two P-51 D Mustangs, a Lockheed P-38, a P-40, a BT-13, a PT-19, a PT-22, and a PT-26. Fully operational authentic WWII ground vehicles are proudly displayed among the aircraft. The very rare WACO CG-4A glider used to silently transport troops during WWII is among the displays. A mural by acclaimed artist Dave Reiser depicting Utah Beach during the D-Day Allied Invasion of Normandy, France, plays a prominent role in the museum. Bronze sculptures of the Army’s 4th Infantry’s soldiers by renowned sculptor, Fred Hoppe, Jr. are prepared for combat as they land in a Higgins’ boat bringing the Ivy Division’s motto “Steadfast and Loyal” to life.
The 357th Fighter Group of the Army Air Corp’s 8th Air Force is represented by the museum’s Quonset hut and control tower. Authentic artifacts are used throughout the briefing room depicting Leiston Airfield in England as well as authentic controls in the control tower. A bronze of legendary Col. Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson, a triple ace fighter pilot completes the scene.
A library overlooking the museum’s first floor containing WWII books and documents collected over many years is a work in progress. Touch screens throughout the museum give visitors an interactive experience. Authentic uniforms and artifacts are displayed throughout.
GARY SINISE – Narrator
In 1982, Sinise’s career began to take off when he directed and starred in Steppenwolf’s production of True West. In 1983, he earned an Obie Award for his direction and a year later appeared with John Malkovich in the PBS’ American Playhouse production of the play. In 1988, Sinise directed Miles from Home, a film starring Richard Gere, about two brothers’ fight against the foreclosure of the family farm. Sinise has appeared in many films including: Forrest Gump, Of Mice and Men (which he directed), Apollo 13, Reindeer Games, Snake Eyes, Ransom, Mission to Mars, The Stand and Impostor. He narrated the audiobooks for John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. He also had a role in the film The Green Mile also starring Tom Hanks.
In 2004, he began his first regular television series, in the crime drama CSI: New York, in which he plays Detective Mac Taylor. He was credited as a producer from season 2 onwards and wrote the storyline of an episode. Several episodes have allowed Sinise to demonstrate his musical prowess, including a Season 2 episode where Mac Taylor plays the bass guitar in a jazz club with musicians Kimo and Carol Williams and Danny Gottlieb, members of the Lt. Dan Band, which Sinise and Kimo Williams co-founded in 2003. The band is named for Sinise’s character in Forrest Gump.
Apart from his television and movie work, Sinise is the host in the video for the Epcot ride Mission: SPACE, at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, and a model for Baume & Mercier watches. He co-founded Operation Iraqi Children. Sinise said, “Iraq is in the news every day, and most of it is bad. But there are some positive stories. And how our soldiers are rebuilding schools and helping kids is one of them.”
Sinise was the narrator for the Discovery Channel’s mini series When We Left Earth in 2008. He was awarded the Presidential Citizen Medal by George W. Bush for work he did supporting the U.S Military and humanitarian work supporting Iraqi children.
Sinise narrated Army and Army Reserve Army Strong recruitment ads in late 2008.
Sinise is the executive producer — along with David Scantling — of the Iraq War documentary Brothers at War. The film features an American military family and the experiences of three brothers: Jake Rademacher, Isaac Rademacher and Joseph Rademacher.
Since 2006, Sinise has co-narrated the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington, D.C., with Joe Mantegna.
Sinise serves as the National Spokesperson for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. He spends much of his time raising awareness for the Memorial and other veterans’ service organizations.
In November 2009, Sinise narrated the highly acclaimed “World War II in HD” on the History Channel. In 2010, he narrated the World War II documentary “Missions That Changed The War” on the Military Channel.
Since late 2002, he started the Cadillac commercials starting with the 2002–2003 Season’s Best commercial and has been with the Break Through campaign since it started the campaign in the 2002 Super Bowl with Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll then ended in late 2006.
COLONEL CLARENCE E “BUD” ANDERSON
Col Anderson is a WW II Triple Ace fighter pilot and a veteran military experimental test pilot.
During WW II he served two combat tours escorting heavy bomber over Europe in the P-51 Mustang, Nov 1943 through Jan 1945. He flew 116 combat mission (480 hrs) and destroyed 16 and 1/4 enemy aircraft in aerial combat and another one on the ground.
He has an extensive flight testing background spanning a 25 year period. At Wright-Patterson AFB OH he was a fighter test pilot and later became Chief of Fighter Operations. He flew many models of the early jetfighters and was involved in two very unusual flight test programs. He made the first flights on a bizarre experimental program to couple jet fighters to the wingtips of a large bomber aircraft for range extension. Later he also conducted the initial development flights on the F-84 Parasite fighter modified to be launched and retrieved from the very large B-36 bomber.
At The Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB CA Col Anderson was assigned as the Chief Of Flight Test Operations and later Deputy Director of Flight Test. While there he flew the Century series fighters and all the other types of aircraft in the Air Force inventory. He has flown over 130 different types of aircraft and has logged over 7500 flying hours.
Other assignment in his 30 years of continuous military service include duty as: Commander of an F86 Squadron in post war Korea, Commander of an F-105 Wing on Okinawa, and two assignments to the Pentagon as an advanced R & D staff planner and as Director of Operational Requirements. Further, he served in Southeast Asia where he was Commander of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing. Col Anderson flew bombing strikes against enemy supply lines and later was in charge of closing the first large air base when his combat wing was deactivated.
Col Anderson was decorated 25 times. His awards include 2 Legion of Merits, 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, 16 Air Medals, the French Legion of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre, as well as many campaign and service ribbons.
He learned to fly at age 19 gaining his private pilots license in 1941 through the Civilian Pilot Training Program while attending college. In Jan 1942 he entered the US Army Aviation Cadet Program receiving his wings and commission in Sept 1942. He received his test pilot training by completing the AMC Performance Course (1948) and the Stability and Control Course (1949) while at Wright-Patterson AFB OH.
Born in Oakland CA he spent his early years on a rural farm near Newcastle CA. He attended Placer Union High School, Sacramento Jr College and the George Washington University. Military education includes the Air Command and Staff College and the Army War College. He is a life member of the American Fighter Aces Association and holds the rank of Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
He is married to the former Eleanor Cosby of Auburn CA, they have been married over 60 years. They have two children and four grandchildren.
After retirement from the Air Force in Mar 1972 he joined the McDonnell Aircraft Company and served for 12 years at Edwards AFB as Manager of the Company Flight Test Facility. After full retirement in 1984 the Andersons moved from Lancaster and now reside in Auburn CA. In 1990 Col Anderson wrote an autobiography with another author which has been described by The Historian Of The Air Force as “the finest pilot memories of WW II”. In this book titled “TO FLY AND FIGHT’ Gen Chuck Yeager describes Anderson as ” a mongoose, .. the best fighter pilot I’ve ever seen”.
Bud remains an avid pilot, maintaining his Flight instructor rating and flying P-51s. He lectures on his flying experiences, has consulted on computer flying games, participates in written and online interviews and writes articles for aviation periodicals. Featured in the History Channel “Dog Fight” series and the Military Channel “Showdown: Air Combat.” Bud was honored to be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
John Lear has flown 160 different types of aircraft in over 50 different countries. He held 17 world speed records in the Lear Jet including speed around the world set in 1966 and is the only pilot ever to hold every airman certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.These certificates include the following: Airline Transport Rating Flight Instructor Ground Instructor Navigator Engineer Dispatcher Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic Control Tower Operator Parachute Rigger In addition to this, he holds the PATCO award for Outstanding Airmanship presented in 1968 and the Symons Wave memorial.
Lear has flown missions worldwide for the CIA and other government agencies. He flew in Southeast Asia between 1966 and 1973 and has extensive experience in Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Far East, Africa, and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. He has also flown experimental and production test flights for the Lear Jet Corp. and other companies. As a non-sked pilot he has flown for 28 different airline companies in the past 25 years. Lear studied Industrial Design in college but left without graduating to fly airplanes. He quickly checked out in single and multi-engine land and seaplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloons, and fighter type aircraft. While attending high school in Switzerland, Lear became the youngest American to climb the Matterhorn in Zermatt.
In 1968 he pylon raced a Douglas B-26 Invader in the Reno Air Races, the largest aircraft ever raced at Reno at the time. At age 28, he was one of the youngest Boeing 707 captains to fly in commercial service in 1973. A former Nevada State Senate candidate, John is the son of William P. Lear, designer of the Lear Jet executive aircraft, the 8-track stereo, and founder of Lear Inc. (now Lear-Siegler Corp., a large defense contractor). Lear has written extensively about airplanes and other subjects and was Middle East correspondent for “Combat Illustrated between 1975 and 1977 while stationed in Lebanon with a cargo airline.
Although Lear’s father was outspoken in his belief of the existence of extra-terrestrial visitors (to the great concern of the Pentagon particularly because Lear was a major defense contractor), Lear himself only became interested in the subject 13 months ago after talking with United States Air Force personnel who had witnessed a UFO landing at Bentwaters Air Force Base near London, England, and 3 small aliens walking up to the wing commander. Lear’s extensive worldwide civilian military, and intelligence contacts have made it easier for him to research the subjects of what he calls, “Identified Alien Aircraft”. “The government has always been correct in their pronouncements that UFO’s did not represent a threat and that they did not represent advanced advanced technology… but nobody ever asked them about Identified Alien Aircraft (IAC’s) which sure as hell do!”, comments Lear. “Although deceptive, most government statements concerning UFO’s have been essentially correct.”
Lear is an amateur astronomer and photographer. He has won several awards for his photos taken during his worldwide travels and is also an accomplished yachtsman having campaigned his own 12 meter Americas Cup boat “Soliloquy” out of Marina Del Rey, California for two years. Lear is Vice-Commander of the Generals Ward and Chennaylt Post No. 1 (the Soldiers of Fortune Post) of the American Legion, member of the Special Operations Association, and Confederate Air Force. Lear, who has 4 daughters, lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife.
Kevin Eldridge was born in Riverside, California. He now resides in Claremont, California with his wife, who is also a pilot. His interest in aviation started in high school when he was introduced to the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California.
He eventually started working as a mechanic for the museum and Steve Hinton’s Fighter Rebuilders, where he began restoring World War II aircraft. After obtaining his private pilot ticket, he continued to fly, earning his commercial license in a North American T-6 and instrument in the North American B-25 Mitchell. Also during this time, he graduated with a B.S. in Finance from Cal Poly Pomona.
Kevin has been flying warbirds for over 20 years and holds an unlimited license for “all makes and types” of high performance piston powered aircraft. He is also a Screen Actors Guild member and motion picture pilot, has raced in the unlimited division of the National Air Races and has flown a wide variety of warbirds and aircraft that range from the Luscombe to the F-86 Sabre.
Eldridge currently holds the position of Chief Pilot at the Planes of Fame Air Museum and is still involved in restoring vintage aircraft, having recently completing a 1947 Luscombe for his wife. Kevin is currently based in L.A. where he flies for a major airline.