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Capital Wing to fly Vietnam veteran at Culpeper on April 10

Warbird ShowcaseThe Capital Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is flying an Army Vietnam veteran at the Warbird Showcase event at the Culpeper Regional Airport in Culpeper on Saturday.

“We’re honored to be able to fly Ray Dodson in our Stinson L-5 Sentinel airplane at our first Warbird Showcase of the year,” said Pete Ballard, assistant adjutant of the Capital Wing.

Dodson was drafted into the Army when he was 18, went to Vietnam in 1966 and was there for almost a year. He was assigned to the 459th Signal Battalion, where he installed Bell System communications at many bases in country.

Dodson was primarily stationed at Nha Trang Air Base, which was the training center for the South Vietnamese Air Force, flying Cessna U-17 aircraft for forward air control. This aircraft is similar in design and capability to the Stinson L-5 Sentinel flown by the Capital Wing.

Following three years in the Army, Dodson became a certified welder and moved to Culpeper 16 years ago to be closer to family.

He’s looking forward to flying in the Stinson L-5 “for the fun of it.”

“Part of the CAF mission is to honor the thousands of men and women who built, serviced and piloted the vintage WWII aircraft we keep flying,” Ballard said.

The arrangements for the veteran’s flight were made possible by the local Hero’s Bridge organization.

The Warbird Showcase is a free event open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Flight adventures are available for advance purchase in any of 4 warbirds: the Stinson L-5 high-wing forward air controller, a Boeing PT-17 Stearman open cockpit bi-plane, a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber and Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation’s North American B-25 twin-engine twin-tail bomber.

Flight adventures can be purchased in advance at www.capitalwingwarbirdrides.org or at www.delawareaviationmuseum.org/damf/lhfe/rides.html.

Last year most seats sold out quickly so the public is encouraged to book their flight early. Flights not sold in advance will be available for purchase on site the day of the event.

In addition to the 4 WWII warbirds offering flight adventures, there will be static displays on the ramp or in the Capital Wing Hangar including a very unique Fairchild F24 Forwarder, made in Hagerstown, Md., a Vultee BT-13 basic trainer flown by the Tuskegee Airmen and a French Alouette II turbine helicopter.

The public may also visit the small WWII museum at the Capital Wing hangar. Lunch will be available on site at the Order Up! food truck and various aviation themed items will be for sale at the Capital Wing PX and B-25 tent.

For those who want to experience what it might have been like to fly a WWII assignment, the Capital Wing offers a comprehensive “Torpedo Mission” experience which includes a mission profile, aeronautical map of the flight area, an airport tour in a 1942 Jeep, a flight suit for the duration of the flight, and an extensive pre-flight briefing by the pilot before taking off in the TBM Avenger.

This is probably as close to piloting the torpedo bomber as one can get.

The Warbird Showcase has confirmed one additional stop on its 2021 tour at the Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown, Del., on Saturday, Oct. 2. There are several other tour stops in Virginia and Maryland.

Both the Capital Wing and the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations and ticket purchases may be tax-deductible.


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