LAPORTE | A flyover will kick off the Fourth of July parade in LaPorte after all and a Region native will carry it out behind the controls of his authentic World War II plane.
After learning the long tradition of having a military flyover to start the parade was nixed due to federal budget cuts was met with disappointment.
Stuart Glenn jumped at the chance to zoom over LaPorte in his 1942 Vultee Valiant BT-13A.
"Any time I can share the airplane with people I'm excited to do it," Glenn said.
Glenn, 47, has a summer home on Pine Lake in LaPorte and lives full time in the Chicago-area where he owns a fitness company.
The plane used to train pilots for aerial combat during World War II is stored and maintained in the hangers at the LaPorte Muncipal Airport.
It's been kept there since Glenn purchased the plane about three years ago, said John Landwerlen, owner of LaPorte Aviation.
"It's a nostalgic toy," Landwerlen said.
Glenn said his love of planes dates back to when his father was an aircraft mechanic in the Marines. Glenn grew up in Valparaiso and was flying at 16.
Raised as a child to be adventurous, Glenn retired from the Air Force and decided to purchase a plane. After some looking, he and his wife found the Vultee Valiant BT-13A at a museum in Carson City, Nev.
The museum closed, making the plane available to purchase for $80,000.
"I flew it back here, and it's been in LaPorte ever since," Glenn said.
He flies the plane on a regular basis.
"It's like going back 70 years and going back to the greatest generation. It takes you all the way back," Glenn said.
Joy Zigler, chairperson for the LaPorte Jaycees Fourth of July parade, said the plane is not nearly as loud or fast as the military jets that usually fly over the city, but it'll still be exciting to see.
"What more can we ask for?" Zigler said.
Landwerlen said the Vultee Valiant BT-13 A was not made for combat. The models were strictly used to train pilots to fly fighter planes and the one owned by Glenn was originally based in Arizona.
Landwerlen said the plane is loud, though, just like the fighter planes of that time period and can travel up to 150 miles per hour.
"It's a lifelong dream to own and operate this airplane and share it with everybody else and remember the sacrifices people made during that era and the years before that and after that to give us our freedoms so we can celebrate the Fourth of July," Glenn said.