16 May 2014

A “Sentimental Journey” to Normandy

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It’s not everyday that one gets to see a 70+ year old plane roll down a runway and lift into the air. Yesterday, at the National Warplane Museum in nearby Geneseo, New York, hundreds of people (our own Steve Bukowski included) witnessed just that.

About 50 miles east of Buffalo lies the small village of Geneseo. For us, it’s most well-known for SUNY Geneseo, one of the more prestigious schools in the State University of New York system. However, just across the road from the college is the National Warplane Museum, also (formerly) known as the Historical Aircraft Group. And yesterday (May 15, 2014), people poured onto the site to bid farewell to an airplane gaining fame and called “Whiskey-7”.

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This is Whiskey-7. It’s a C-47 cargo plane that flew for the United States during World War II, and most notably participated in the famous “D-Day” Invasion of Normandy, France in 1944. This plane dropped paratroopers behind Nazi defenses and helped start the liberation of France and the opening of the “Second Front” against Germany during World War II.  Now, 70 years later, the National Warplane Museum labored to return the craft to flying condition for a special journey back to the skies of Normandy.

A “Sentimental Journey”, the event around the send-off, sought to give the plane and its crew a spirited farewell before taking off for Europe. The audience of several hundred included museum members, aviators, students, military veterans, families,  and kids, all to see Whiskey-7 (so named for the W7 painted on her fuselagIMG_1172e).

The day started off with tours of the museum, which features pieces of aviation equipment, memorabilia, and airplanes mostly centered around World War II. There are several other planes around the museum and outside for visitors to walk around and check out. The museum’s large hanger was used to serve lunch. After lunch, a singing group called the “Manhattan Dolls”  performed songs from the 1930s-40s in the style of the Andrews Sisters. We recognized a few of them, such as “In the Mood” and the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”.

 

After  the Manhattan Dolls wrapped up their set, Whiskey-7’s crew prepared the plane for take-off as the excited crowd looked on. The flight crew, 5 of them in all, closed the doors and prepared Whiskey-7 for its journey. After a long taxi down the grass runway at the National Warplane Museum, Whiskey-7 gained speed and slowly lifted into the air. It took off, looped around to the airport for a fly-by and then proceeded to its first stop, Maine. The plane will make several stops along the way to Normandy before she re-enacts the dropping of paratroopers on June 6, 1944–exactly 70 years from the invasion itself.

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Here’s Steve, our Director of Interpretation/Social Media, snapping a quick “selfie” with Whiskey-7.

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Whiskey-7 preparing to take off from Geneseo’s National Warplane Museum.

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Whiskey-7 is airborne!

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Whiskey-7’s fly-by as the plane leaves Geneseo and heads to Maine.

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