Callensburg native recreates history

Callensburg native Marvin Richard Dunlap stands beside a World War II era P-51 Mustang he recently flew in. Dunlap remembers a day in the 1940s, after the war, when a pilot in a Mustang "buzzed" Callensburg.

BUTLER - When growing up in Callensburg after World War II, Marvin Richard Dunlap recalls the day one of the local boys who was a fighter pilot in WWII buzzed Callensburg in his P-51, the premier fighter plane of World War II.

Dunlap recalls the plane roared down Callensburg's main street at tree-top level, and proceeded to perform some aerobatics over the small town.

Dunlap was never able to identify the rambunctious pilot, but he never forgot that day.

That day in Callensburg was one factor in his lifelong love of airplanes, which lead him to a attend Penn State and graduate as an aerospace engineer.

When Dunlap recently had an opportunity to take the controls as a student pilot in a P-51, he jumped at the chance.

He wanted to recreate the day in 1945 or 1946 and buzz his old hometown.

So when he and his pilot took off from the Butler Airport on Aug. 17, they headed straight for Callensburg.

The Federal Aviation Administration now has restrictions on how low he could fly, so they couldn't go below 1,000 feet.

But after buzzing Callensburg, they performed some aerobatics before heading back to Butler.

Dunlap said it was the thrill of a lifetime to be able to actually fly the airplane he always loved.

Even though the airplane is 75 years old, Dunlap said it flew beautifully and he was impressed with the ease that it handled. He said he would love to fly it again someday.

Dunlap now resides in the North Hills suburb of Pittsburgh and he gets back to Callensburg as often as he can.

Dunlap, 79, is a 1958 graduate of Keystone High School. About two years ago, Dunlap completed an 800-page book about his life. The book included many stories about his childhood in Callensburg.

A copy of the book is kept at the Knox Public Library.

The book is titled "A Small Town Boy. Callensburg, Clarion County, Pennsylvania. A Nice Place to Have Grown Up."