Recently I traveled with my family to Washington DC for my seventh grade son's field trip. Unbeknownst to the organizers, the field trip coincided with the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
A commenter here at JOM mentioned that there would be a flyover over DC on the anniversary, so the field trip was re-organized to take advantage of the opportunity to see it. So on Friday, May 8th the field trip took us to Arlington National Cemetery. We timed the visit so that we ended at the Iwo Jima Memorial just before the flyover began, with a wonderful vantage on the lawn just below the memorial.
The planes flew down the Potomac River and then turned as they approached the Washington Monument passing directly over the Mall. The flyover included over 50 aircraft from World War II and was organized with the planes flying in formations representing major battles and events in the war.
The next day, although the field trip was over, we headed out to the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles International where several of the planes were to land and be on display.
Before we go any further, I want to acknowledge that all the content below relies exclusively on my World War II obsessed son (we'll still call him hit and run jr), and his amazing knowledge of the planes and battles involved.
The first formation - representing Pearl Harbor with the P-40 Warhawk:
The next formation represented the Doolittle Raid with B25 Mitchells:
The Battle of Midway with the PBY Catalina:
The Guadalcanal Campaign was represented by the F4F Wildcat, the video here of it arriving at the National Air and Space Museum:
(Note: digital cameras have difficulty processing propellers, making them at times appear to be moving slowly)
Yamamoto Shootdown with the P-38 Lightning:
The Ploesti Raid with the B-24 Liberator and P-51 Mustangs:
There was a formation to highlight importance of planes to Escort Bombers. This is a shot of a P-51 Mustang after it landed at the National Air and Space Museum:
The Big Week/Operation Argument with a B-17 Flying Fortress:
D-Day with a C-47 Skytrain and a C-53 Skytrooper:
Leyte Gulf/The Great Turkey Shoot with the SB2C Helldiver and TBF Avenger:
The Battle of the Bulge with an A-26 Invader at the National Air and Space Museum:
And the Final Air Offenive with the much anticipated B-29 Superfortress:
Unfortunately, in the thrall of the B-29 going overhead, I stopped the camera and missed the Missing Man Formation.
The entire flyover experience was amazing. Earlier in the week when we first visited the National Air and Space Museum, we had the privilege of watching a tour bus of Honor Flight attendees from Chicago unload and tour the museum.
It was humbling to be in the presence of heroes such as they.