Despite high winds and an hour delay, a World War II-era flyover destined for a trans-Atlantic flight to Normandy and the 75th anniversary of D-Day appeared over northern Virginia Friday.
At approximately 12:30 p.m., the flyover reached the Pentagon/Arlington National Cemetery/Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall area. Near Arlington House, a group of close to 20 vintage airplane lovers and cemetery visitors watched the planes fly from south to north past the Air Force Memorial, the Pentagon and over the joint base.
The group of C-47s and one T-6 aircraft are a part of the D-Day Squadron, an organization dedicated to providing living history events to educate both students and adults. The planes which flew over the JBM-HH area will be part of trans-Atlantic Ocean journey climaxing with an English Channel flyover to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day June 6. The entire group will leave Oxford, Connecticut, Sunday with stops in Canada, Iceland, Greenland before arriving in the United Kingdom. From there, 30 planes will drop 250 paratroopers over the shores of Normandy as part of the commemoration.
Before leaving the United States, the squadron will fly past Manhattan Island and the Statue of Liberty Saturday for a New York City flyover.
The C-47 was one of World War II’s most versatile aircrafts. Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Western Europe Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said the C-47 was one of the most vital pieces of military equipment used in winning the war.
The Army Air Corps’ modified version of the DC-3, the C-47 Skytrain, became the military’s most reliable transport aircraft. The plane could hold three tons of cargo including jeeps or cannon. As a troop transport, it carried 28 Soldiers in full combat gear. It was also used to airlift wounded service members in medical emergency situations and could be modified to tow gliders. In the early hours of June 6, 1944, close to 1,000 U.S. Army Air Force C-47s and Royal Air Force Dakotas dropped paratroopers into the French pre-invasion darkness.
The plane also played critical roles in the Berlin Airlift and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Nearly 75 years later, more than 300 C-47s are still operational.
Pentagram Staff Writer Jim Dresbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.