First D-Day Squadron DC-3 Lands in UK

 - May 22, 2019, 6:30 AM
D-Day Squadron DC-3s participated in a formation flight down the Hudson River before departing for the UK. (Photo: Adrienne Hall/Sound Off Films)

The first of 14 DC-3/C-47 Dakotas and variants comprising the D-Day Squadron and scheduled to complete the transatlantic crossing in preparation for the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion at Normandy, France has landed at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford Airfield in England. Clipper Tabitha May, a DC-3 in Pan American Airways Clipper colors, departed Manassas, Virginia on May 14 and arrived in England on May 21, after several overnight stops in Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.

The Clipper and approximately 17 other American-based Dakotas (not all of which are part of the D-Day Squadron) will participate in the Daks over Normandy events on June 2-5 in Duxford and June 5-9 in Caen, France. More than 30 C-47 variants are expected to participate, 20 of which will be equipped to drop nearly 300 parachutists from around the world during a practice drop on June 4 over Duxford and June 5 over original D-Day drop zones in Normandy, weather permitting. The Dakotas will remain at Caen-Carpiquet Airport and open to the public June 7-8.

Ten of the D-Day Squadron aircraft gathered at Waterbury-Oxford Airport in Connecticut for a four-day kickoff on May 15-18. During the kickoff, the crews received specialized training, conducted Atlantic flight briefings, and practiced formation flying, including flights over Pratt & Whitney headquarters and an iconic flight down the Hudson River over the Statue of Liberty. The kickoff week ended with a mass takeoff of C-47s on Sunday, May 19 with a stop at Presque Isle, Maine en route to Goose Bay, Canada. Other stops on the way to Duxford include Narsarsuaq, Greenland, Reykjavik, Iceland, and Prestwick, Scotland.

The D-Day Squadron is also scheduled to participate in the Daks over Prestwick airshow on May 25.