GENESEO — Folks from all over the country gathered at the National Warplane Museum on Saturday, as they have for more than 30 years. Spectators walk among historic planes, many from the World War II era, watch them fly,and maybe meet a pilot.
Milling near the runway, spectators enjoyed a real treat, gazing on Whiskey-7, a fully functional 1943 model Douglass C-47 cargo plane, from the shade of her massive wings. There were many more WWII planes on the field, including iconic fighters like the P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning, and weird ones like the wood-and-canvas ultra-light Havilland Mosquito. Unlike these others, however, which have always been show planes owned by private fliers, Whiskey-7 actually flew combat missions during the war. Whiskey-7 is one of the few surviving C-47’s that dropped allied paratroopers into Normandy on June 6, 1944.
“I got a ride in Whiskey-7 once,” said Richard Curtis, who maintains the planes at the Warplane Museum. “It had special meaning for me, since my dad, Newton, used to build the tails of C-47’s in Buffalo.”
It seems that everyone has some connection to Whiskey-7 and C-47’s. Many, many people on the field had stories to tell about friends of friends who saw Whiskey-7 in France, or Scotland, or knows an old timer who flew C-47’s in the war. Whiskey-7 became an international heritage icon when she flew to Normandy, France, to reenact the D-Day paratrooper drop in June of this year, dropping the Liberty Jump Team paratroopers into the same sites in France that she did 70 years ago.
Camera shutters clicked all around as Whiskey-7 fired up her enormous twin engines, hauled herself to the end of the runway, and took to the sky. As a grand finale, members from the Liberty Jump Team leaped out of her over the crowd and drifted to earth in WWII-era parachutes.
Whiskey-7 will fly again in Sunday’s portion of the airshow, and will remain in Geneseo as the crown jewel of the Warplane Museum’s historic collection.