Goal is to promote preservation of WWII aircraft for future generations
MONROE, La. – On Dec. 20 a group of aviation heritage organizations are holding a press conference to announce preparations for commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with a nationwide flyover of WWII aircraft in communities throughout America on the weekend of Aug. 15-16, 2015.
The goal of the mass flyover is to pay tribute to the pivotal role American airpower played during WWII and to remind the public of the importance of preserving the last remaining planes of the era so they can continue to educate and inspire future generations.
The press conference is being held in Monroe, La., the hometown of the legendary Gen. Claire Chennault, whose famous “Flying Tigers” took to the skies over China on Dec. 20, 1941, in the first counter attack against Japan just 12 days after Pearl Harbor.
The press conference will be hosted by the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum (701 Kansas Lane, Monroe, LA, 71203) at 10 a.m. CST, followed by a reception at the historic Selman Field, which was the site of the largest navigator training school during WWII.
The Southern Heritage Air Foundation, with the support of Green Light Development, is flying in three WWII fighter planes for the press conference – a Curtiss P40, a F4U Corsair and North American P51.
“These aircraft symbolize the courage and valor of the men and women who fought to defend freedom not just for America, but for the whole world,” said Dan Fordice, founder of the Southern Heritage Air Foundation, based in Vicksburg, Miss.
“We are pleased and honored to be hosting this historic press conference here in Monroe,” said Nell Calloway, director of the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum, and granddaughter of Gen. Chennault. "My grandfather and the Flying Tigers helped lay the foundations for what became the U.S. Air Force and are a fitting symbol for a movement to pay tribute to the achievements of American Airpower during WWII.”
Calloway is a member of a steering committee made up of representatives from HISTORY A&E Networks, the Air Force Association, the EAA Warbirds of America, the Commemorative Air Force, the Association of Rosie the Riveters of America, the Women’s Memorial, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Eighth Air Force Historical Society, WWII museums and heritage organizations, aviation publications, and other groups that are helping to promote participation in the 2015 nationwide flyover.
“Airpower was the decisive factor in winning the war and the source of technological advances of the postwar era, including man’s exploration of space,” said Jerry Yellin, 89, who flew the final combat mission of WWII in a P51 fighter on Aug. 14, 1945, and is the honorary co-chair of the steering committee. “We need to assure these precious aircraft are maintained in flyable condition so that they can continue to educate and inspire the youth of America.”
Other groups are developing plans for similar “signature” projects to commemorate the 70th anniversary in 2015 that will honor the WWII legacy of the Army, the Seaborne Services, and the Home Front.