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WWII Warbirds to visit the Richmond area July 17-18

Warbird ShowcaseThe Richmond area will turn back the clock to 1944 as the Capital Wing of the Commemorative Air Force brings five vintage WWII warbirds to the Hanover County Municipal Airport in Ashland on July 17th and 18th.

The airport will be the site of a Warbird Showcase presented by the Capital Wing as part of its Mid-Atlantic tour.

The five warbirds represent the progression US Army and Navy officers would follow in becoming pilots in WWII. Initial training would have been in Fairchild PT-19 “Cornell” or Boeing PT-17 “Stearman” primary trainers. Once qualified to fly these aircraft, some pilots would be assigned to fly liaison aircraft like the Stinson L-5 “Sentinel” while others moved on to the advanced trainer North American T-6/SNJ “Texan.”

Those who were at the top of their class in advanced training would go on to fly the most complex and advanced airplanes of the time including the General Motors TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, the largest and heaviest single-engine bomber of WWII. All five of these airplanes will be at the Hanover Airport.

Warbird Rides in any of the five warbirds can be purchased in advance at the Capital Wing bookings website www.capitalwingwarbirdrides.org. Flights not sold out in advance will be available on site at the event. Parking and admission to the Warbird Showcase are free, although a donation to the all-volunteer non-profit Capital Wing is appreciated.

Those who choose to fly in the North American T-6/SNJ will quickly discover that this isn’t just any ordinary T-6. It was built in 1944 as an SNJ-5 and delivered to the US Navy. After WWII it passed into private ownership and joined the air race circuit.

In 1974 this WWII advanced trainer, nick-named “Gotcha!” won the Gold Race at the National Air Races in Reno, Nevada and subsequently raced for over 30 years for various owners. It now sports an upgraded 850hp engine, making it an extremely fast airplane! Riding in this T-6 is probably as close to flying in a WWII fighter as you can get.

For those who want to experience what it might have been like to fly a WWII mission in the TBM Avenger, the Capital Wing is offering a “Torpedo Mission” experience, which includes a mission profile, aeronautical map of the flight area, a flight suit for the duration of the flight, and an extensive pre-flight briefing by the pilot and crew just as was done in 1944.

This is probably as close to performing a ‘torpedo run’ as one can get. The TBM Avenger being flown by the Capital Wing is the exact same type aircraft President George H.W. Bush flew as a Naval Aviator off the decks of USS San Jacinto (CVL-30), assigned to Torpedo Squadron (VT-51) and (VT-153).

There are warbird rides to fit every budget with flights starting at just $99.

“Warbird rides are an opportunity for the public to sit in the same seats as did the crew of our aircraft in WWII. And feel the same power of the engines at take-off just as they did. And smell the same smells they did,” said Pete Ballard, Warbird Rides Coordinator for the Capital Wing. “Providing these warbird rides is a part of the CAF mission to honor the thousands of men and women who built, serviced and piloted the vintage WWII aircraft we keep flying,” Ballard said.

CAF Capital Wing aircraft rides sell out quickly, so it is recommended those interested purchase early. For frequently asked questions regarding flight requirements, check-in times, cancellations and changes, contact the Pete Ballard at capitalwingcaf@gmail.com or (540) 450-5992.


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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