Historic Warbirds Return To Service, Transport Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Harvey

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On Friday, August 25th, the eye of Hurricane Harvey, a strong category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, made landfall near Rockport, TX. Over the next week, the center of Harvey would sit and spin over Texas, dropping 40-50 inches of rain! This amount of rain resulted in catastrophic and life threatening flooding across southeast Texas, including the Beaumont, TX area.

Beaumont sits about 1 hour and 15 minutes to the east of the Houston Metro. When Harvey’s rains hit, the town’s 118,000+ people were devastated. While most of the national media’s attention was on the Houston Metro, other areas in Texas were also struggling.

In Georgetown, TX, located outside of Austin, citizens started gathering supplies. A call went out for general aviation aircraft and pilots in the area to help take supplies down to Beaumont. The Commemorative Air Forces’s Highland Lakes Squadron, with their Douglas C-47 “Bluebonnet Belle”, answered that call.

The C-47 has a history of transporting important cargo. During World War II, the platform was used to carry jeeps, troops, or up to 6,000 pounds of other cargo. It was used by every branch of the US military and all of the major allied powers.

When Texas needed it, the C-47 stepped back into service – more than 70 years after the war that made the type famous. The cabin was loaded with diapers, food, and water before the aircraft launched on the hour and a half trip from Georgetown to Beaumont.

In a post on the Commemorative Air Force Facebook page, the CAF said, “When the Texas National Guard showed up with their Deuce and a half truck, we knew we had brought supplies to the right place. A troop of soldiers descended on the C-47 unloading box after box directly onto the military truck. This was only the first load of supplies and so long as there is a need the CAF is planning to help.”


Photos from David Oliver

The C-47 wasn’t the only aircraft that helped with Harvey relief. The B-25 Mitchell “Devil Dog”, also a CAF aircraft, transported supplies to impacted areas as well. These including, rather fittingly, 500 pounds of dog food for displaced pets.

Well done by these resilient old airframes and the volunteers that support, maintain, and fly them!

B-25 Devil Dog Aids Harvey Relief

Airplane that Led the D-Day Invasion Appears at Oshkosh

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If you’re heading to Oshkosh, look for a part of history on the airfield! Aircraft number 42-92847, nicknamed “That’s All, Brother,” will be on display all week in Boeing PLaza. The aircraft is the C-47 that led Mission Albany. The aircraft group that it flew with was a formation of 432 aircraft which launched just after midnight on D-Day will be on site for the public to view.

The aircraft was acquired by Basler Turbo Conversions LLC of Oshkosh,WI in 2008. Not knowing the history of the aircraft, Basler had planned to convert it into a modern BT-67 turboprop, changing the appearance of the aircraft by lengthening its fuselage, replacing the original engines with modern engines and gutting the cockpit, replacing it with new equipment.

In it’s current state, “That’s All Brother” looks like an AC-47 Gunship, a role it never served.

“At 2233 hours, our first airplane, with the name “That’s All, Brother” begins its roll down the runway. It is thus America’s lead plane of the spearhead of the greatest military invasion in the history of man.” W.L. George Collins, “Into Fields of Fire”
“At 2233 hours, our first airplane, with the name “That’s All, Brother” begins its roll down the runway. It is thus America’s lead plane of the spearhead of the greatest military invasion in the history of man.” W.L. George Collins, “Into Fields of Fire”

The Commemorative Air Force and Basler Turbo Conversions are searching for funding to help restore the aircraft through a Kickstarter campaign. Reward levels are available for those who donate.

The CAF plans to fly it in the future, even overseas in Europe to participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day if they raise enough money. Their full plan states:

-Faithfully restore the aircraft to represent its exact configuration on D-Day. This will include exterior paint and the installation of original seats, avionics, radio and radar equipment.
Maintain the aircraft in airworthy condition as a piece of living history, attending major national commemoration events, airshows, flyovers and the like.
-Develop a touring educational program that emphasizes the values of the Greatest Generation: courage, self-sacrifice, perseverance, initiative, and the price of freedom. The program will be influenced by the success of the CAF’s Red Tail Squadron program RISE ABOVE. Using a P-51C Mustang and traveling movie theater, this takes the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen to 40 cities each year, reaching about 50,000 people annually.
-Fly to Europe in the summer of 2019 to participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the last opportunity for living veterans to attend a major commemoration event.

As of July 20th, the Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $328,736 for the cause as of July 20th. CAF and Basler Turbo Conversions have until August 31, 2015 to raise the money necessary to rescue the airplane.