Built in 1943, Miss Virginia, a C47-turned-DC-3 airplane used domestically in World War II, was ready for takeoff once again Monday morning.
Flawlessly taking to the air, pilots Rod Moyer and Ethan Peirce, of Dynamic Aviation, flew a couple of passes over the airstrip behind the Bridgewater flight contracting company’s buildings before heading south to begin a commemorative flyover of the region.
“Just another Monday at work,” Pierce said, turning back in his seat after the ascent.
In honor of the 78th anniversary of D-Day, four DC-3 planes from the World War II era conducted an honorary flyover of the Shenandoah Valley. Miss Virginia — a DC-3 owned by Dynamic Aviation — was joined by three other DC-3s from around the country for the 40-minute tour.
Emerging from a thick layer of clouds, the historic planes, named Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber, Spirit of Benovia and N18121, joined Miss Virginia at 11:30 a.m. in midair above Staunton. Commanding their territory like a pod of renegade sharks, the planes assumed their formation — a diamond — with Moyer and Peirce leading the pack.
“Welcome to the Shenandoah Valley,” Moyer said to the guest pilots, who traveled from around the country to reach Bridgewater, a pit stop on the way to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center in Chantilly for screenings of a new documentary about these planes.
In the cockpit of Miss Virginia, Moyer’s voice rang loud and clear through noise canceling headsets, cordially pointing out the occasional landmark on the 15-minute leg of the trip from Fishersville to Elkton, including the MillerCoors facility and the Merck & Co. facility on East Side Highway.
This is not the first time the pilots — including Shane Wallace and Nick Camacho in the Biscuit Bomber, Pete Nickerson and Daniel Wotring in N18121 and Paul Bazeley and Matt Burch in Spirit of Benovia — have flown together.
In 2019, the planes and some of these pilots made the trans-Atlantic trek to England, France and Germany for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, which took place during the Cold War.
The trip was such a big deal — requiring huge time commitments, drawing massive crowds and attended by Presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron, of France — that a documentary was made about it and the intergenerational crew of pilots who came together for the flight, called “Into Flight Once More.”
From airports, ballfields and parking garages below, residents of the area by the hundreds watched and took pictures of the planes, which each have a unique paint job and are all different on the inside, thanks to generations of decommissioned use.
Landing as smoothly as it took off, Miss Virginia and the other DC-3s were greeted by a large crowd of photographers, family members and special guests when they arrived back in Bridgewater at 12:10 p.m.
The three planes — currently touring for premiere screenings of the documentary across the country — were on display at the Museum of the U.S. Air Force for the film screening and will travel to the Dulles area for the next screening on June 18 at 10 a.m. at the Airbus IMAX Theater.
Guests awaiting the arrival of the four DC-3 planes included Richard Wright, 96, of Rockingham County, a WWII veteran.
It’s cloudy, but Wright — who served as a commissary in the U.S. Navy for two years at the end of the war — said he remembers D-Day.
“I was drafted in 1944,” Wright said. “I served on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic.”
Monday’s event had an extra special place in Wright’s heart, he said. After the war, he became a farmer in the area and flew planes as a hobby, buying his first plane decades ago for $500 and flying it out of Bridgewater Air Park.
He said the planes reminded him of the bygone era, in a place he’s been connected to for many decades since.
“It was spectacular,” Wright said.
Original post and video located HERE supplied by The Daily News Record