The seventieth anniversary of victory in Europe during World War II will be celebrated with a massive flyover above Washington, D.C., by World War II-era aircraft on May 8 at 12:10 p.m. The 40-minute event is part of a three-day Arsenal of Democracy event honoring those who built and flew the aircraft.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress Fifi operated by the Commemorative Air Force will be among the historically sequenced formations made up of training aircraft, fighters, and bombers used in Europe and the Pacific. Details are on the event’s website.
Fundraising to support the event is in progress under an organization sponsored by the Commemorative Air Force. Additionally, organizations such as Texas Flying Legends, Fighter Factory, and Fagen Fighters have committed multiple aircraft, along with a number of individual owners. The formations could include as many as 60 aircraft depending on the success of fundraising efforts led by a Washington, D.C., marketing firm. Aircraft expected to participate in the formations are the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, North American P-51 Mustang, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Chance Vought (also built by Goodyear) FG-1D Corsair, North American B-25 Mitchell, and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. A donation form was released this week along with the press release about the event.
Air & Space magazine plans to print 1940s-era plane spotter cards in its May issue so spectators and youngsters can identify the aircraft.
Arsenal of Democracy events include a dinner on Thursday, May 7, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The dinner will pay tribute to World War II veterans and feature combat heroes sharing their personal stories of experiences in the European and Pacific theaters. The Arsenal of Democracy Executive Committee includes Stephan C. Brown, president and CEO of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF); Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS); Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association; and Doug Rozendaal of the Texas Flying Legends Museum. Former President George H.W. Bush, former U.S. Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.), and former dean of the U.S. House of Representatives John Dingell (D-Mich.), all World War II veterans, are honorary co-chairmen of the celebration.
“Arsenal of democracy” is a phrase coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a December 1940 radio address in which he promised help to allies while acknowledging public sentiment against entering the war.