The expedition to take 15 Douglas DC-3 and C-47 variants across the Atlantic Ocean to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion was a monumental undertaking. As the D-Day Squadron looks back a year ago on those efforts, there’s a strong understanding of how fortunate they were to be able to fly there at all.
To continue the commemoration of the end of World War II in Europe, four of the D-Day Squadron aircraft plan to participate in an event more readily manageable under the current conditions—a Memorial Day flyover in southern California, on May 25. The “SoCal Strong” event honors veterans and frontline healthcare workers in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.
This week, the crews recall that a year ago, on May 19, 2019, they practiced the formation and tribute flight skills needed to commemorate the D-Day missions as a group assembled in Oxford, Connecticut, before striking out over the North Atlantic on their way to Duxford, England. The Memorial Day flyover features California-based aircraft from that group: D-Day Doll, a C-53 from the Commemorative Air Force’s Inland Empire Wing, will lead the formation, joined by the Flabob Express C-47, Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber C-47, and Spirit of Benovia C-53. Also filling out the group is What’s Up Doc?, a C-47 from the Palm Springs Air Museum, Condor Squadron’s T-6s, and possibly other World War II-vintage aircraft.
“Our mission flying World War II aircraft over parts of Southern California for Memorial Day is to salute our veterans who sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. In addition, we will acknowledge the many medical personnel, first responders, and citizens who have provided unwavering support in caring for the local populace during this pandemic,” said Steve Rose, IEW wing leader, and pilot of D-Day Doll. “To join again with fellow squadron members is an honor and we appreciate everyone volunteering their time and aircraft to participate in this flight.”
The flight will target two national cemeteries, VA medical centers, airports, landmark piers and harbors, and the ships the Queen Mary, and the USS Iowa battleship. They’ll airlift a host of veterans from World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. The D-Day Squadron continues its mission as part of the Tunison Foundation, a charitable organization devoted to promoting the continuing airworthiness of the Douglas DC-3 type family, promote static and flying displays of historic aircraft, and educate and involve future generations in flying freedom and understanding aviation history.