Daks Over Normandy Group Has 37 Aircraft Lined Up For Massive 2019 D-Day Commemoration – But They Need Your Help!

posted in: Warbirds | 2

C-47 Skytrains - Daks Over Normandy

June 6th, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion on World War II, and a massive operation is underway to get dozens of warbirds over to Europe to commemorate the event. This project, focused on DC-3/C-47 transports, goes by the appropriate name “Daks Over Normandy”.

So far, the multi-national team behind Daks has lined up 37 of the historic aircraft – currently based around the world – to converge on IWM Duxford Airfield in the UK and France next spring to take part in a series of flights and reenactments. Many of the aircraft are part of a related effort called the “D-Day Squadron”, which aims to bring US-based DC-3s together for a group flight across the North Atlantic to Europe following the same routing they might have taken during the war; a long and expensive journey.

Once in the UK, the assembled force will participate in a series of flights and paradrop reenactments before flying en masse across the English Channel together to perform a massive paradrop into an original 1944 drop zone in Normandy on June 5th. It is a gathering that may never be seen again. The aircraft will then land at Caen Carpiquet Airport and base there for further flying before the event concludes.

Of course, one can’t talk warbirds without also talking money. Ferrying even one aircraft across the Atlantic will cost thousands of dollars – and that’s with an all-volunteer crew! Keeping the aircraft going through Europe will require even more funds. The entire effort relies on donations, and the D-Day Squadron is actively seeking donors to sponsor the trip for US aircraft.

At the same time, the overall Daks organization recently announced their “Adopt an Aircraft” program, which seeks corporate and private sponsors and offers promotional branding, aircraft access, and VIP events for donors.

You can learn more and show your support at DDaySquadron.org and DaksOverNormandy.com. Donations of all sizes and types are welcomed!

Please consider supporting this incredible project, and look for more coverage of the Daks next year!

Warbird Heritage Foundation Acquires P-51 Mustang “Moonbeam McSwine” To Honor Vlado Lenoch

posted in: Warbirds | 8

Vlado Lenoch and Moonbeam McSwine

Moonbeam McSwine is coming home!

The Warbird Heritage Foundation announced Wednesday that they’ve purchased the P-51 Mustang named “Moonbeam McSwine” from its most recent owner, Mr. Frederic Akary of France. The aircraft will reside under a new FAA registration number, N51VL, in honor of Vlado Lenoch.

Vlado and Moonbeam were synonymous; he flew the aircraft for over 20 years before he sold it to Akary in 2012 and began flying WHF’s P-51 Mustang “Baby Duck” at airshows instead. Vlado and passenger Bethany Root were flying in Baby Duck when they were killed in a crash last July. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the incident.

Moonbeam McSwine ReassemblyMoonbeam McSwine Reassembly

Rumors have been swirling for weeks now that Moonbeam was being brought home to the US to be flown as a tribute to Vlado, but until today nothing was confirmed publicly. The aircraft has arrived from overseas and is scheduled to be re-assembled at Tab-Air in East Troy, WI before joining the WHF fleet in Waukegan, IL. If all goes well, the aircraft should be up and flying in time for this summer’s airshow season!

Moonbeam McSwine Reassembly

Moonbeam’s history dates back to October of 1944, when it was manufactured in Inglewood, CA. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, Moonbeam raced in the Reno Air Races. Vlado flew it regularly in the United States Air Force Heritage Flight program (see the video below) before he sold it to Frederic Akary in 2012. Since then, it has been seen regularly at airshows across Europe.

We were fortunate to work with Vlado for many years, and continue to mourn his loss. This tribute is well deserved, and Moonbeam will certainly see many emotional reunions with Vlado’s friends as it returns to the airshow circuit. We look forward to bringing you plenty of photos and videos of this piece of history!

USAF Thunderbirds Soar Over Paris, Normandy Beach, And More In Preparation For Bastille Day Flyover

posted in: Jet Teams | 0
USAF Thunderbirds Over Paris, France - July 2017
Photos Courtesy of the USAF Thunderbirds

Members of the United States Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds demonstration team are in Europe this week, preparing for their upcoming shows in France and England. The team is set to fly over the city of Paris, France on July 14 in celebration of Bastille Day, France’s La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) commemorating the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July, 1789.

The team flew a practice sortie over the city as well as the beaches at Normandy and Mont Saint-Michel. Check out these incredible photos!

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Mont. Saint-Michel

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Pointe Du HocUSAF Thunderbirds Over France - Normandy Beach

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Louvre

USAF Thunderbirds Over France - Normandy Beach

This year, the traditional flyover of the parade through Paris will feature the Patrouille de France and a number of other aircraft from the French Air Force’s inventory, to include Dassault Mirage 2000s and Rafales. Following them will be the USAF Thunderbirds and a pair of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors. Much like the Patrouille de France’s American Tour earlier this year, the inclusion of the Thunderbirds in these festivities marks the 100th year since the United State’s entry into the First World War, signifying solidarity between the French and American forces.

Following their Bastille Day flyover, the team will be performing at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, England July 14-16. Afterwards, they will depart Europe back for the US to fly at Flight Over the Falls in Great Falls, Montana on July 22-23.

To see where you can catch the USAF Thunderbirds this year, check out our post with their 2017 schedule!

First F-35A Lightning II Aerobatic Performance Planned For 2017 Paris Airshow; USAF Demos To Follow In 2018

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

USAF and Lockheed Martin plan F-35 Demos for 2018

The United States Air Force and Lockheed Martin are reportedly starting to develop an aerobatic demonstration routine with their newest fighter jet, the F-35A Lightning II, for the 2018 airshow season. They have been developing the routine and practicing it in the simulator this year, and they are ready to begin practice flights at their F-35 production facility in Fort Worth.

Most of us will have to wait until 2018 to see the demo, but those attending the 2017 Paris Airshow will actually see the first performance. The Air Force says they will “build our demonstration profile based on the experiences and lessons learned from F-35 participation in other airshows and the Lockheed Martin demonstration at the 2017 Paris Air Show.”

The F-35 Heritage Flight Team stood up at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona in 2016. The team performed at 15 airshows in 2016 and is scheduled to perform at 14 airshows in 2017. It has not been announced where the demonstration team would be based out of, but the Heritage Team operates out of Luke AFB in Arizona. We’ll provide more information as we learn it.

Atlantic Trident 2017 Exercise Combines Eurofighters, Rafales, And Raptors To Strengthen Ties Between Allies

posted in: Event Recap, Military | 0

French Air Force Rafale - Atlantic Trident 2017

After entering World War I on the 6th of April 1917, the United States’ participation in Europe led down a path of air power that resulted in our current day United States Air Force. On 5 May 1918, the American Expeditionary Force in Europe activated the 1st Pursuit Group at Gencoult, France. Commanded by Major Bert M. Atkinson, this unit was the first American group-level fighter organization and is now known as the 1st Fighter Wing, the Air Force’s oldest Wing. The 1st Pursuit Group consisted of five Aero Squadrons: 27th, 94th, 95th, 147th, and 185th. Of these five, the 27th and the 94th remain part of the wing to this day, and ensure air dominance with their F-22 Raptors.

During combat throughout Europe, the pilots of the 1st Pursuit Group conducted over 1,400 aerial engagements and accumulated 202 confirmed aerial victories. The 27th Aero Squadron’s 2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke Jr. achieved 18 aerial victories before he was shot down and killed while engaging the enemy on the ground on 29 September 1918. For his actions, Luke received the Air Force’s first ever Medal of Honor. The 94th Fighter Squadron’s Captain Eddie Rickenbacker achieved 26 aerial victories, more than any other American pilot in WWI. While on patrol on 25 September 1918, Rickenbacker engaged seven enemy planes on his own, destroying two, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry against the enemy. On 10 November 1918, the day before the war ended, Major Maxwell Kirby of the 94th Aero Squadron recorded the last aerial victory of WWI. Throughout the war, the 1st Pursuit Group remained constantly engaged with the enemy in the skies over the battlefields and earned eight campaign credits.

Royal Air Force Typhoon - Atlantic Trident 2017USAF F-22 Raptor - Atlantic Trident 2017

It was during WWI that the Air Forces of the three countries participating in Atlantic Trident 2017, namely the US, France, and Great Britain, began building a relationship that has lasted 100 years. The 27th Aero Squadron’s origins are tied closely to the Royal Flying Corps of the British Army. The 27th received its advanced aerial training from British instructors in Canada before deploying to Europe. In addition, the commander of the squadron when they entered the war was Major Harold E. Hartney, a former Royal Flying Corps veteran who had already flown in combat and been shot down by Baron Manfred von Richthofen. The British cultural influence and training helped make the 27th one of the most lethal American squadrons during the war with 56 confirmed aerial victories.

Atlantic Trident 2017 is not only a multi-national training exercise but a celebration of the alliance the UK, France, and United States maintain. The 2017 exercise includes French Rafales, Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s from the UK, as well as home-based F-22 Raptors, F-35As from Eglin AFB in Florida, and F-15E Strike Eagles from Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. The Strike Eagles got the opportunity to team up with Langley T-38 Talons to serve as the bad guys, or “red air”.

French Air Force Rafale - Atlantic Trident 2017Patrouille de France - Atlantic Trident 2017

To help commemorate this anniversary, the base hosted a media day and small airshow during the exercise. The morning consisted of a USAF F-22 Raptor demonstration followed by a French Air Force Rafale demonstration. The Patrouille de France finished it up with their aerobatic performance. Following the demonstrations, we were given the chance to interview the crews from the demonstrations and then visit the alert hangars for a static display that included all the exercise aircraft. The day finished up with a mass launch of 24 aircraft for the only planned sortie of the day; quite a lot of military metal in the skies over eastern Virginia!

We would like to extend our gratitude to Jeff Hood, Maj. Whitlatch and everyone at the 633d Air Base Wing, Joint Base Langley-Eustis for going above and beyond to make this day happen.

Photos courtesy of guest contributor Andy Backowski.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagle - Atlantic Trident 2017USAF F-35A Lightning II - Atlantic Trident 2017

Patrouille de France Debut New Tail Paint For 2017 Season

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

Patrouille de France Paint 2017 Season

The Patrouille de France, France’s aerobatic jet team has released pictures of a new tail paint on their Alpha Jets for the 2017 show season.

The pictures, taken during training flights during the winter season, debut a new tail display that differs from the traditional red, white and blue striped tail. The 2017 tail features a wave pattern of red, white, and blue as well as several stars.

Want to see the paint for yourself? If you live in the United States, you have a rare chance to catch the team in action this year in the U.S. The team will perform at the Melbourne Airshow, Sun ‘n Fun, and Maxwell AFB. If you live in Canada, you can see the team when they perform at the Wings over Gatineau Airshow in Quebec in late April.

What do you think of the paint? Do you like the look? Share your comments with us on our Facebook page or in the forums!

Patrouille de France Paint 2017 SeasonPatrouille de France Paint 2017 Season
Patrouille de France Paint 2017 Season
Patrouille de France Paint 2017 SeasonPatrouille de France Paint 2017 Season

Patrouille de France Confirmed For 2017 Sun ‘n Fun Appearance, Kansas City Appearance Tentative

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 1
Patrouille de France - United States Tour
Photo source: Sun ‘n Fun

The Patrouille de France has added another show to its short US airshow tour this spring! This morning, the Sun ‘n Fun Facebook page announced that the French aerobatic team will be performing at the event on April 4th. This date is just after their previously announced appearance at the Melbourne Air and Space Show on April 1st and 2nd. The two shows are less than 100 miles apart, so it is no surprise that the team would stop at Sun ‘n Fun, which runs from the 4th through the 9th.

A third event is also in the works, but has not been confirmed. Tentative plans are for the team to perform in Kansas City, MO on April 6th. This would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the US entering World War I in France. Kansas City is the home of the National World War I Museum and Memorial. This appearance has not been confirmed, and it is unclear if it would be a true airshow or simply a flyover. We will of course post details as we get them!