“D-Day Flight” on June 6, 2014

To heighten awareness of one of the most important days in our nation’s history, HFF’s P-51B “Impatient Virgin” will lead a “diamond four” formation of Mustangs to thirty cities and towns in Western Washington on Friday, June 6, 2014, the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Also participating are P-51Ds from Heritage Flight Museum (“Val-Halla”), Flying Heritage Collection (“Upupa Epops”) and the collection of Mark Peterson (“Hell-er Bust”).

This idea hatched several months ago as HFF planned its calendar for the year. Invitation letters went to city managers, mayors and chambers of commerce. Many replied enthusiastically. Many also provided the names of WWII veterans active in their communities, veterans who will be honored at HFF on June 7th in a full day of activities beginning at 0900.

Back to the flight. Consider the realities of missions in WWII. “Time over target” required precise flying without a GPS, proper speed, course correction for wind and coordination of the formation. At approximately 200MPH and relatively low altitude, landmarks pass rather quickly. And when you spot the target (in our case, perhaps a crowd in a parking lot), you can’t just descend to wag your wings. You need to reposition a tight formation with gentle turns and adjustments in altitude.

We plan to take-off at 0900 for the first of two sorties. After “forming up” over Paine Field, early visits will include Everett, Stanwood and Marysville on the way to Skagit and Bellingham, then over to Port Angeles. The groups planning assemblies at our waypoints want to know our estimated time of arrival. We have ETAs, but the real answer lies in technology. We will place within the lead aircraft, a transponder to send signals to a web page available for tracking our progress. We hope this encourages understanding and forgiveness in the unlikely event (Ha!) we miss an arrival time at some point in the day.

At the conclusion of the northern/western circuit, “D-Day Flight” will return to Paine Field to fuel the aircraft and pilots. We hope this is accomplished by noon. More to follow.

John Sessions