Catawba fighter pilot John Davenport remembers the Berlin Wall

John Davenport

Retired Air Force fighter pilot John Davenport doesn’t sit in the cockpit and fly military military aircraft any more, but he still has memories of his C-130 aircraft flights all around the world, including a Berlin trip 30 years ago when he brought home a piece of the Berlin Wall just after it fell in November 1989. Davenport shows off his chunk of the Berlin Wall, his Air Force flight helmet, and a Russian pilot’s helmet that was a gift from his trips to Russia. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)

BY D’ARCY EGAN

The collapse of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago this month was a momentous event in Europe and around the world. Air Force pilot John Davenport of Catawba Island remembers it well, and even has a hunk of the Berlin Wall to prove it.

Davenport, who is involved in humanitarian causes these days, as well as his music studio in Sandusky, HALO LIVE. For 20 years, however, Davenport flew jet trainer aircraft and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, touring Europe and most every corner of the world.

“In the late 1980s, we were flying C-130s for three months each year, ferrying supplies and equipment,” said Davenport. “We made a lot of flights through the Berlin Corridor while the Berlin Wall still stood, which could be nerve-wracking. The corridor was only 20 miles long, but if you strayed from it, Russian fighters would try to shoot you down.”

When the Berlin Wall collapsed, Davenport and a group of pilots were on a crew bus, and drove past the collapsed wall.
“There were big chunks of concrete laying around, so we stopped the bus and a bunch of us managed to wrestle a 200-pound piece of the wall onto the bus, and took it back to our home base in Abilene, Tex.”

The big chunk was sawed into 300 smaller chunks. Each was mounted on a small, wooden base, and given to more than 300 pilots and officials.

“The mayor of Abilene got a chunk, and it is still in an Abilene museum,” said Davenport.

While Davenport trained pilots in small jets, he enjoyed the larger C-130 transports.

“I’m 6-foot-5, and it was a struggle to get into the cramped quarters of those small jets,” he said. “The C-130s gave you room to take a nap, stretch your legs or pour yourself a cup of coffee,” said Davenport, with a laugh.

Davenport still flies as a passenger, though, and in April he and his wife, Dr. Diana Davenport, a pediatric dentist, will return to Guatemala to care for children among the Mayan Indians who are in critical need of dental care.

The mission, in part sponsored by the John Knox Presbyterian Church, includes a wide range of doctors and dentists.

Davenport is hosting “An Evening with the Songwriters,” on Friday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Catawba Island Brewing Company in Port Clinton. Featured will be brothers Jerry and John Davenport and Patrick Fleming.

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