Look To The Skies: WWII Airplanes Fly Again!

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At the beginning of May 2015, watch the northern Virginia skies: World War II bombers and fighters are coming to DC, Manassas and Culpeper. On Friday May 8, 2015, the 70th anniversary of V-E Day – commemorating the end of the war in Europe – they’ll fly together in historic group formations directly over the Washington, DC Mall.

The best place to see the flyover will be from the Mall itself. The planes will approach from the north down the Potomac River, bank to the left just past the Lincoln Memorial, fly east along the Independence Avenue side of the Mall directly over the WWII Memorial and just south of Capitol Hill, then bank to the right to fly back to the river to return to Virginia. The first planes are expected to arrive over DC beginning about noon. Because the planes will be flying directly over DC, the Secret Service won’t permit any public access to the planes at the Manassas and Culpeper airports on Thursday or Friday, May 7 and 8, 2015. If bad weather forces a postponement, the flyover would take place on Saturday, May 9. The flyover website is http://ww2flyover.org/.

But the flyover isn’t the only opportunity for people to see these planes. Some of the early arrivals, including the B-17 Texas Raider, a four-engine bomber, will be on static display from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Manassas Airshow on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Admission to the airshow is free. Complete information on the airshow is at http://manassasairshow.com/. Raider will be selling rides and tours at Manassas on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, May 3, 5, and 6; booking information is available on the airplane’s website at http://b17texasraiders.org/.

The other three big bombers participating in the flyover will be open for cockpit tours at the Manassas Regional Airport from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Saturday, May 9, through Wednesday, May 13. The daily admission fee of $15 for adults 18 and over and $5 for students from 6 through 17 (children 5 and under are free) includes the opportunity to go aboard and walk through all three bombers on the ground, including Fifi, the only B-29 still flying; Diamond Lil, the oldest remaining B-24 (like the plane featured in the film Unbroken); and Aluminum Overcast, a B-17G built in 1945.

All three bombers at Manassas will also be selling rides, so visitors to the airport may get the chance to see them starting engines, taking off, and flying. Their flight schedules will depend on the demand for seats. Links to book rides on each of the planes are on the airport’s website at http://www.manassascity.org/airportevents. Some of the smaller aircraft from the flyover will also be part of the Manassas display, including Gunfighter, a P-51 fighter plane; the only flying SB2C Hell Diver, a Navy dive bomber; and the twin-engine Bucket of Bolts C-45 Expeditor, a multi- engine trainer used for light cargo and as a VIP transport aircraft during the war. Rides on the smaller planes will also be available for purchase.

A variety of the other planes participating in the flyover will be on static display from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, near Dulles Airport. The ground display at the Smithsonian is free, but vehicle parking costs $15. Information on the “Fly-In to Victory Day” event is on the Smithsonian website at http://airandspace.si.edu/events/detail.cfm?id=16029.

So head over to the Mall, the Manassas Regional Airport, and the Udvar-Hazy Center in May to experience a bit of World War II history in the most up close and personal way possible!

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The Arsenal of Democracy, which organized the DC Flyover; the Commemorative Air Force, which owns and operates the B-29, B-24, B-17 Texas Raider, P-51, C-45, and Hell Diver aircraft; and the Experimental Aircraft Association, which owns and operates the B-17 Aluminum Overcast, are all charitable 501(c)(3) organizations dedicated to education and the preservation of history.