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'Betsy's Biscuit Bomber' ready for Europe'Betsy's Biscuit Bomber' ready for Europe

World War II C–47 to join aerial gathering in Normandy, FranceWorld War II C–47 to join aerial gathering in Normandy, France

Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber, a restored World War II-era Douglas C–47 Skytrain, is set to join more than three dozen aircraft with similar pedigrees for a Normandy, France, D-Day invasion reenactment on June 6.

Betsy's Biscuit Bomber is a restored World War II-era Douglas C-47 and will join more than three dozen aircraft with similar pedigrees for a Normandy, France, D-Day invasion reenactment June 6. Photo courtesy of Tony Gaspar, the Gooney Bird Group.

Organizers said the U.S.-based D-Day Squadron of C–47s and DC–3s will participate in Daks over Normandy, which is shaping up to be “the largest worldwide gathering of C–47s and WWII era aircraft in modern times.”

Tony Gaspar is the outreach director for the Paso Robles, California-based Gooney Bird Group that is bringing the aircraft to Europe. The airplane departed the West Coast on May 3 with a big send-off. A crowd of people waved small U.S. flags, and Gaspar said veterans “from multiple wars” cheered the green twin-engine taildragger into a clear blue sky. “It was a “great send-off,” he added.

The U.S. jumping off point is Oxford, Connecticut, and then Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber will fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Greenland, Iceland, England, and over the English Channel to France.

He predicted the 2,200-nautical-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing would be an “arduous” but worthwhile journey.

Spectators can participate in multiple events on both sides of the English Channel from June 2 to 5 at the United Kingdom’s Duxford Airfield, and continuing June 5 to 9 at Normandy’s Caen-Carpiquet Airport.

Photo courtesy of Tony Gaspar, the Gooney Bird Group.

Gaspar noted that it takes a lot of manpower and a deep wallet to support the 75-year-old aircraft and its crew of six, headed by chief pilot and retired U.S. Navy Lt. Comdr. Sherman Smoot.

He added that the “rehabilitation” of the aircraft into solid flying condition—plus its transcontinental and “Blue Spruce” route transoceanic flights—would cost about $300,00. He estimated the hourly flying costs for “one of the most original C–47B aircraft still flying” were about $1,380.

The group is selling a special cargo of 100 commemorative flags that will be flown “in your honor or that of your organization” to help offset the expenditures.

When the historic mission is complete, the flags will be shipped to donors in a special display case with a certificate of authenticity “signed by the flight crew honoring all those who have served this country.”

Gaspar noted that after the Normandy celebration the squadron of C–47s and DC–3s will begin a one-month European tour “as honored guests to help celebrate the liberation of Europe 75-years ago.” The aircraft are expected to return to the United States in July.

Betsy's Biscuit Bomber, a World War II-era Douglas C-47, is shown before the aircraft was restored to flying condition. Photo courtesy of Tony Gaspar, the Gooney Bird Group.
David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: Public Benefit Flying, Warbird

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