D-Day C-47s land at Air Force Museum in spectacular display



Visitors can watch them leave Thursday, weather permitting

A pair of World War II-era C-47 Skytrain planes that flew in the D-Day invasion landed Wednesday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, dropping some 17 volunteer paratrooper-reenactors along the way.

The Tico Belle and the Placid Lassie landed under perfectly blue skies, with crews and paratroopers, many of them veterans, promptly disembarking to greet a local hero, Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, as well as Mae Krier, 95, a Pennsylvania woman who worked for Boeing in World War II.

Martin was a 101st Airborne paratrooper who dropped into the pre-dawn darkness of Normandy on D-Day almost 78 years ago. The Sugarcreek Twp. resident celebrates his 101st birthday Friday.

“I’m darned glad to be here,” Martin said as he greeted crews and well-wishers. “I’m really, really honored that all of you came out here.”

“You know what I enjoy about it — the people,” he added.



Air Force Museum staff and visitors have a clear affection for the C-47. Last April, the first Allied C-47 to fly over the Nazi-held Normandy beaches on D-Day landed on the runway behind the museum for a three-day stay.

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain was heavily used by Allied nations in the Second World War. As a supply plane, it was highly capable, able to fly up to 6,000 pounds of cargo, according to airplane producer Boeing.

As a “do anything, go anywhere” aircraft, it remains beloved, said Doug Lantry, the museum’s chief historian.

Not only did it participate in the D-Day and the Market Garden operations, it flew supplies to China, Burma and India, served in the Korean and Vietnam wars and some were even overhauled as gunships.

“It could do everything that was asked of it,” Lantry said.

It could move a fully assembled jeep or a 37 mm cannon, as Boeing put it. As a troop transport, it could carry 28 soldiers in full combat gear.

And in the guise of medical transport, the plane could accommodate 14 patients on stretchers and three nurses.

Museum visitors are also invited to watch as the two aircraft depart from the museum runway at 4 p.m. Thursday. The departure schedule is weather-dependent.

Viewing areas for the departure will be the museum’s main visitor parking lot or a viewing area near the Memorial Park.

Florida’s Valiant Air Command Inc. is the custodian of the Tico Belle while the Tunison Foundation, of Oxford, Conn., owns the Placid Lassie.



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