The Star-Herald

Vintage aircraft will visit Presque Isle en route to D-Day remembrance

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A squadron of 10 to 12 C-47 aircraft will fly in to Presque Isle on Sunday, May 19, for a short layover on their way to France to take part in the 75th anniversary of D-Day, announced officials at the Presque Isle Air Museum.  

The planes will land at Presque Isle International Airport in the area of the old general aviation terminal, weather dependent, at around 11 a.m. and will stay on the ground for approximately two hours.  The public is invited to be a part of this historic flight as it takes part in the D-Day festivities.

Parking for the event will be in the Coca-Cola plant lot at 1005 Airport Drive with Presque Isle Historical Society’s Molly the Trolley providing free shuttle rides across to the plane viewing area.  

D-Day, or June 6, 1944, represents the day that many historians say was the turning point in World War II.  On that day, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified coastline in Normandy, France, to fight Nazi Germany. The Allies suffered 10,000 casualties, including 2,500 deaths that day.

Designed and manufactured in California and Oklahoma, the C-47s first flew on Dec. 23, 1941.  Only 10,147 of these were built. During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo and wounded.  The C-47 was instrumental in the success of many Allied campaigns as this aircraft made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-travelling Japanese Army.

The United States Air Force‘s Strategic Air Command had Skytrains in service from 1946 through 1967. The US Air Force’s 6th Special Operations Squadron was flying the C-47 until 2008.  In fact, several C-47 variations were used in the Vietnam War by the US Air Force.  After World War II, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil airline use, some remaining in operation in 2012, as well as being used as private aircraft.

The Presque Isle Air Museum, located at the south end of the Presque Isle International Airport terminal, will also be open for tours during the event.  This year represents the 20th anniversary of the museum, which plans more events later in the summer.

The museum began to honor the men and women who served their country at Presque Isle Army Air Field and to preserve, chronicle, display and promote awareness of the history of aviation in Presque Isle, especially in its roles as Presque Isle Army Air Field and the Presque Isle Air Force Base.  

The C-47 had a crew of four and could hold 28 troops.  The length is just over 63 feet with a wingspan of slightly more than 95 feet and height of 17 feet.  The range is 1,600 miles with a maximum speed of 224 mph and cruise speed of 160 mph.

For more information, contact the museum by email at piarimuseum@hotmail.com.

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