Cover of Time magazine

The Big Flight gets underway for D-Day

Many events from World War II have made an indelible mark in history.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the commencement of hostilities and the 75th anniversary of a day that would become known as “D-Day” — the day Allied Forces invaded Normandy — June 6, 1944.

It was and still is the largest seaborne invasion in history and laid the launchpad for eventual Allied defeat of the Nazis.

The D itself doesn’t stand for anything of real significance.

It was used as the marker point for the start of the operation, with June 8, two days later, effectively known as D+2 or D plus two.

Properly named, D-Day was the start of Operation Neptune.

The operation consisted of amphibious landings, aerial and naval bombardment, and the assault of 24,000 paratroopers from Canada, the US and Britain.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, there are two separate events being held in the US.

One of those, a “kick-off” event, started a couple of days go on the east coast, with a gathering of fully restored Dakota DC-3 and the military version, C-47, aircraft.

The plan is for a squadron 10 aircraft at last count to meet in New York state and offer passenger flights.

It’s a prelude to the main event, and one that involves DC-3s and C-47s from “Down Under” as well as Europe.

May 18 (US time) the squadron will gather and perform a flypast of the iconic Statue of Liberty.

It’s part of a circuit of Long Island Sound and the mainland, before a gathering on May 19.

This will begin “The Big Flight”, where the aircraft will fly from the base in Connecticut to Goose Bay in Newfoundland, Canada.

The route from here will follow a WWII route known as the “Blue Spruce”.

They’ll refuel at Narsarsuaq Airport in southern Greenland; refuel at Reykjavik Airport in Iceland; and refuel a final time at Prestwick Airport on the Western coast of Scotland.

The squadron will then make the next leg of this epic trip, with a jaunt to Duxford Airfield north of London where they will join the entire international C-47 fleet for the final leg to Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Normandy, France as part of the Daks Over Normandy event on June 6.

All of the aircraft flying are genuine 1940s built examples of the famous DC-3 and the C-47.

One of the aircraft, “That’s All, Brother”, was built in early 1944, and delivered in March of that year.

In the late hours of June 5, 1944 “That’s All, Brother” took off as the lead ship in Serial #7, the initial element for the main US paratroop force to go into battle in Normandy.

After WWII the aircraft had a succession of private owners before it was purchased a corporation that dressed the vintage aircraft as a gunship.

In the late Noughties research uncovered her true identity and she was taken into the guardianship of the Commemorative Air Force, America’s largest historic aircraft organisation.

“Spirit of Benovia” was built and delivered in 1942, and is actually designated a C-53.

This is a lightened version of the C-47 and has no double cargo door.

Originally based in Pakistan, she was transferred to the USAAF before service after WWII in India and China.

She’s now owned by the Benovia Winery.

Keep in touch with the plane via DDaySquadron.org as they make their way to Europe to be part of Daks Over Normandy, with an estimated 30 plus aircraft and 250 troopers ready to relive D-Day.


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