Fifty-six vintage aircraft of World War II filled the skies over the nation's capital Friday in tribute to the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (V-E) Day.
Some 15 flying formations formed near Leesburg, Virginia, and followed the Potomac River southeast toward Washington. But unlike the usual "river run" of modern commercial flights into Reagan National Airport, the venerable war birds banked over the Lincoln Memorial, overflying the National World War II Memorial, headed east past the Washington Monument along Independence Avenue, turning south as they passed over the National Air and Space Museum near the Capitol.
One aircraft, a TBM Avenger flying alongside another TBM and an SB2C Helldiver, had mechanical dificulties and could be seen peeling out of formation early. The Avenger safely landed two miles south of the WWII Memorial at Ronald Reagan National Airport.
MAP OF THE FLIGHT ROUTE
Among the aircraft featured in the flyover were seven P-51 Mustangs, a pair of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, the last-remaining Curtiss Helldiver and the only remaining Boeing B-29 Superfortress.
Other aircraft in the event included:
- Bell P-39 Airacobra
- Consolidated B-24 Liberator
- Consolidated PBY Catalina
- Curtis P-40 Warhawk
- Douglas A-26 Invader
- Douglas C-47 Skytrain
- Douglas C-53 Skytrooper
- Douglas SBD Dauntless
- Grumman F4F Wildcat
- Grumman F6F Hellcat
- Grumman F8F Bearcat
- Grumman TBF and TBM Avengers
- Lockheed P-38 Lightning
- North American B-25 Mitchell
- North American P-51
- North American T-6 Texan
- Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
- Vought F4U Corsair
Military Times staffers flew in practice runs in both the B-25 Mitchell and the T-6 Texan in the days leading up to the event.
The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover coincided with a commemorative veterans celebration at the WWII Memorial.
On Saturday, about 20 of the aircraft will be on public display at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, just south of Dulles International Airport, during a special one-day exhibit.
Visitors to the museum will be able to walk among the airframes parked on the aircraft flightline just outside the main hangar from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., weather and safety criteria permitting.
"We're looking to have a wonderful family day with activities both inside and outside the museum," said Margy Natalie, the Udvar-Hazy Center's onsite learning manager.
The Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center is open free to the public. However, there is a $15 per vehicle parking fee.
For more information and other events leading up to the V-E Day celebrations, including a gala fundraiser for the weekend's activities, visit ww2flyover.org.