Possibly the largest flotilla of C-47s and other DC-3 variants since the Second World War will cross the Atlantic in late May to take part in a reenactment of the first stage of the D-Day invasion. A total of 18 “Daks” will follow the historic Blue Spruce Route through Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland for the 75th anniversary of the most pivotal battle of the war. The 18 U.S.-based aircraft will be joined by 17 European aircraft for the flypast, which will include parachute jumps by reenactors using round canopies. Many of the aircraft took part in the original raid, including That’s All Brother, the plane that led the assault and was the first one over the beaches. The aircraft, which flew at Sun ‘n Fun, was rescued from a scrap heap and refurbished by the Commemorative Air Force over the past three years.
There will be plenty of opportunity for the public to get close to the historic aircraft, which have led varied and sometimes colorful lives since they were built more than 70 years ago. The U.S. contingent will gather in Oxford, Connecticut, May 13-17 for final preparations, which will include a formation flight around the Statue of Liberty. May 18 the plan, subject to the fickle North Atlantic weather, is to head to Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador, using the original airfield that was the main North American staging base for Europe-bound aircraft during the war. Some will go to Greenland while longer-range models will go to Iceland the next day before heading to Prestwick, Scotland, and finally Duxford, England, where the D-Day event is being staged. After Normandy, many of the aircraft will take part in anniversary events marking the Berlin Airlift, and other European side trips are planned. It’s expected most of the DC-3s will be back in the U.S. in time for AirVenture 2019 in Oshkosh.