It’s late 1940, and Germany’s Third Reich has conquered much of Europe and is ready to pounce on Great Britain. Though the writing is on the wall, the United States has not yet been drawn into the conflict, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt is positioning the good ol’ US of A to help Britain and other European allies defend themselves from the German aggression.
Our friends needed our support, so the United States – the “great arsenal of democracy” as Roosevelt pronounced – was obligated to offer assistance. The tools of war – tanks, guns, airplanes, ammunition – were soon mass-produced by the mighty American industrial complex, and done so long before any US troops set foot in Europe.
This Friday, May 8, is the 70th anniversary of the Victory in Europe (VE) Day, marking the German surrender to the Allies which brought World War II to a close in Europe. It’s a day celebrated in dozens of countries, and this year the United States is kicking it up a notch with a historic flyover of massive proportions.
It’s officially dubbed the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover, a nod to President Roosevelt, who passed away just a month before the German surrender in 1945. Over fifty aircraft, ranging from the PT-17 Stearman primary trainer to heavy bombers like the mighty Boeing B-29 Superfortress, are planned to participate, with fifteen different formations depicting various air battles and noteworthy events of World War II.
The event draws upon the experience of the successful Potomac Flight last October, where two dozen North American T-6/SNJ Texans roared over Arlington National Cemetery, paying homage those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.
It’s no easy task to hammer out the details for putting one giant warbird formation over the nation’s capital, much less fifteen different formations. Thankfully, the FAA and all the other alphabet soup agencies decided to play ball again. A lot of effort went into making this happen, and who knows if it will ever happen again, so be sure and enjoy it if you’re in the Washington, D.C. area on Friday.
You’ll bear witness to one of the most incredible sights in aviation history, and it’s not to be missed. Even if you’re watching this once-in-a-lifetime event from home, you can follow the flyover Arsenal of Democracy Flyover Webcast.
After launching from Culpeper and Manassas airports in Virginia, the veritable aluminum overcast begins at 1210PM (EST) on Friday, and will last about 25 minutes. Washington’s Reagan National Airport will be closed to air traffic during this time as the aerial parade marches across D.C. It’s but a small price to pay to honor our service men and women who served during World War II. Your flight can wait.