Aircraft enthusiasts will be watching the skies in avid expectation on Friday 24th May, when a squadron of Second World War aircraft could pass directly over Point and Stornoway.
The 75th Anniversary of D Day on June 6ththis year is bringing a collection of vintage Douglas C47s to Scotland, on their way to commemorate the liberation of France in Normandy.
They’ll be navigating from Reykjavik in Iceland between May 22ndand 24th, using the air traffic beacon at Bayble in Point, and are likely to be flying below 10,000 feet, giving islanders clear visibility on a good day.
The American-based D Day Squadron are part of the Tunison Foundation, a foundation which organises and supports living history events using airworthy historic craft.
They yesterday (Tuesday May 7th) announced that 15 aircraft will form the American contingent, with the lead aircraft the Placid Lassie, which was part of the original operation to drop 24,000 paratroopers into Normandy.
The fly-past during the D Day commemorations has been code-named ‘Daks over Normandy,’ since the same aircraft, when used by British and Commonwealth forces during the war, were named Dakota.
Placid Lassie leads a squadron of 15 including Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber, Miss Virginia and D-Day Doll. The squad will assemble in Connecticut on Monday (May 13th) for a week of technical checks, practical formation flying practice and media activity.
On Saturday 18ththey are expected to fly in formation over New York, along the Hudson river and past the Statue of Liberty.
They refuel at Goose Bay in Canada for their Atlantic crossing and will follow the historic Blue Spruce route, stopping to refuel at Narsarsuaq airport in southern Greenland and at Reykjavik airport in Iceland. It’s on the leg from Reykjavik to Prestwick when aviation enthusiasts hope there could be a chance of a Western Isles fly-past.
An aviation enthusiast from Stornoway told welovestornoway.com today: “Aircraft on the route from Reykjavik navigate using the beacon at Bayble as guidance. The exact route and how fast they can travel will depend on the weather, but they are likely to be at less than 10,000 feet as these old aircraft are unpressurised.
“If there’s a southerly wind against them they are also likely to have fuel issues on that last leg, and if that, or any technical issue, affects them, we are the first point of landfall after Iceland. We have a long runway and are in a direct line from Reykjavik, so there is a chance we may see one or more of the planes landing here for assistance.”
The squad’s due to arrive at Prestwick on May 24th, when they’ll participate in ‘Daks over Prestwick’ before heading to Duxford Airfield, north of London, where they will position themselves with the entire international C-47 fleet for the final leg to Normandy on June 6th.
Photos show part of the D-Day squadron (DDay Squadron/Tom Demerly), the wartime North Atlantic route (DDay Squadron) and the Placid Lassie at take-off and in the air (Mike Killian).