The Arsenal of Democracy (AOD) is set to return to Washington, D.C., Friday with upwards of 70 vintage aircraft providing an aerial tribute over the National Mall and Potomac in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Rescheduled from May when it was set to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Victory Europe Day, the event will involve World War II-era aircraft flying in historical sequence formations representing significant battles from the global conflicts and end with the missing man formation.
Staged five years after the first AOD flyover was held in recognition of the 70th anniversary of VE-Day, the commemorative tribute is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. EDT and will be live-streamed on the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover website. Programming will begin at 10 a.m.
“The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II is such a seminal event that Congress passed legislation…directing its official commemoration,” said Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and Arsenal of Democracy Executive Committee member. “Our mission is to fulfill the objectives of that law while fully taking into account the Covid-19 related protocols that must be responsibly implemented to carry out such a tribute.”
“Our country owes a debt of gratitude to the men and women who made incredible sacrifices to defend our country,” added John Cudahy, president and CEO of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), and Arsenal of Democracy Executive Committee member. “For all of those involved in this event, it has been a genuine honor to help recognize our Greatest Generation on this 75th anniversary.”
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), which is serving as an event organizer, said more than 20 different types of military aircraft will be featured beginning at 11:30 a.m., with airplanes flying over the Lincoln Memorial and proceeding east in two-minute intervals for the following 70 minutes.
“We greatly value our relationship with the Arsenal of Democracy,” said NATCA president Paul Rinaldi. “Not only are we awed by the spectacle of seeing these vintage aircraft over the skies of the Washington, D.C. area, but our members at local facilities have been working with the FAA and AOD organizers to create a plan to ensure the event is safe and is a well-coordinated success.”
Matt Fisher and John Hall from Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control (Tracon) have led the air traffic coordination, which will involve shutting down the airspace around Washington National Airport (DCA) from approximately 11 a.m. EDT to 1 p.m. Potomac Tracon controllers will also coordinate with Andrews Air Force Base, Washington Dulles, and Manassas Airports to keep their traffic safely separated from the AOD traffic.
The AOD aircraft will begin the journey from a holding point about 10 miles west of Leesburg and fly down the Potomac River towards Washington, D.C., for the aerial parade down Independence Avenue.