May 18

Showtime. Opening Day. Blue skies over the Big Apple.

Having briefed and warmed-up, the D-Day formation took-off for New York City. The lead aircraft headed north, then turned east allowing two three-ship victory formations to form with other DC-3s in trail. Also with us today are two formations of T-6s, the advanced fighter trainer from WWII, still very popular for flight training and warbird flying.

New York air space is very complicated. With Oxford on the north, other airports we would see or planned to fly over included Westchester County, LaGuardia, Kennedy, Newark, and Teterboro. Details of our flight were coordinated on a regional basis with great support from the Federal Aviation Administration. We were assigned the flight designation “D-Day 44.” N877MG became “Omaha 3” with most of our flying as left wing in the second victory formation. The first victory formation featured C-47s painted in authentic WWII olive with D-Day stripes.

With the Statue of Liberty as our destination, flight planners stipulated 1100 as the time-over-target. We headed west as a formation picking up the Hudson River just south of West Point. Flying at 1,500 feet along the west bank, we soon crossed over the Verrazano and George Washington Bridges. Passing on the west side of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the T-6 formations opened their smoke generators as a special salute. Throughout the flight, an authorized photo plane danced within the formation like a water bug. Those are the shots and video I hope to find on the Internet.

Turning left over the bay with the Jersey shore on our right, we passed on the east side of Lady Liberty before turning right to follow the edge of Manhattan abeam the new World Trade Center on our way to Central Park. We next flew a dogleg over Westchester County Airport before heading north toward Oxford.

In contrast to the previous day, the debrief of our special D-Day 75 salute to New York City was a joyous affair.

John Sessions

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