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Return to Normandy C-47 "Whiskey 7" D-Day: 70 Years After

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Watford, Ontario, Canada

Wartime veteran that took part in the D-Day invasion 70 years ago, National Warplane Museum's Douglas C-47 "Whiskey 7."

In the early hours on the morning of June 6th, 1944 Allied forces began the invasion of Normandy, France in an effort to re-take France and, eventually, defeat the tyrannical forces of Nazi Germany.  One of the aircraft that took part in that invasion was "Whiskey 7," a Douglas C-47 that is still flying today.

Whiskey 7 on take off, left, and climbing away after take off, right, at Geneseo, NY.

She flew as the lead ship for the second wave troop carrier airborne invasion force and dropped troops from the 3rd Battalion, 505th Para Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.  Descending on Drop Zone "O" near the village of St. Mere Eglise, they were one of only a few units that were actually dropped on their assigned drop-zone, liberating the French village of St. Mere Eglise.

Over Geneseo in a beautiful blue sky!

Whiskey 7 flew throughout the war and also participated in the famous "Market Garden" operation towing gliders.  In 1945 she was struck off strength and sold to a civilian airline and converted to fly as a DC-3 airliner, operating with several different airlines until she was sold to a private interest in 1993.  She was donated to the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group, now known as the National Warplane Museum, in Geneseo, New York and, in 2005, was converted and restored to the D-Day configuration she is seen in today.

During World War II paratroopers may have gathered near their C-47 in preparation for loading, chatting, smoking cigarettes or resting on a piece of equipment as these "soldiers" of the Liberty Jump Team were doing during the 2011 Geneseo Airshow.

The National Warplane Museum has taken on the task of returning Whiskey 7 to Normandy, France to commemorate and honour those who served and fought during the D-Day invasion.  This undertaking by the National Warplane Museum is a big one and it will not be cheap, nor will it be easy, to do.    The museum needs to raise $250,000 in order to complete this mission which will involve flying W7 from Geneseo, New York to Duxford, England by way of Presque Isle, Maine; Goose Bay, Labrador; Narsarsuaq, Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Prestwick, Scotland; Ramstein, Germany; and Cherbourg, France with some 25 hours of flying time.

The Liberty Jump Team paratroopers exit W7 over Geneseo, much like they will over Normandy in June, left.  Two members of the Liberty Jump Team floating down on large chutes, right.

The "Return to Normandy" Whiskey 7 flights and jumps, with members of the Liberty Jump Team, of which there will be 8 loads of 18 jumpers each, will occur June 4th - 8th.  The flights will also include a variety of aircraft that took part during D-Day advances along with Naval and ground forces.  In the UK, their commemorative events include "International D-Day Ceremony, D-Day Revisited and D-Day 70: 1944 - 2014."

In the cockpit of Whiskey 7 over Geneseo, New York, with female pilot and aircraft captain, Naomi Wadsworth, left.  Looking out over the right engine and wing of Whiskey 7, right

National Warplane Museum's W7 crew includes Chief Pilot/Captain Chris Polhemus, Captain Naomi Wadsworth, Captain John Lindsey, Co-Pilot/Crew Chief Craig Wadsworth and Flight Engineer/Crew Chief Mike Lindsey.  Captain Naomi Wadsworth is the only female pilot on crew and may be one of very few women pilots participating in the D-Day aviation events.

One of the things you may see during D-Day events are military vehicles, such as this one that picked up the Liberty Jump Team paratroopers during the 2013 Geneseo Airshow, left. Whiskey 7 takes to the air with the open door, right.

There will be many other events, ceremonies and celebrations honouring the memory of the D-Day invasion of France that included landings on Juno, Sword, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches along the French coast.  There will be re-enactment camps at St. Mere Eglise, Picauville and St Marie du Mont, historic march in Carentan following in the footsteps of the 101st Airborne Division, a parade of more than 80 assorted World War II military vehicles in Isigny sur Mer, an annual picnic on Omaha Beach and so much more.

National Warplane Museum's Douglas C-47 "W7" in formation with Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Douglas Dakota during the CWH Father's Day Flyfest 2010 in Hamilton, Ontario, left.  How Allied C-47s and Dakota aircraft may have looked in World War II era photos, right.        

While in the UK, Whiskey 7 will also participate in the D-Day Anniversary Air Show May 24th & 25th at former World War II base RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England.  The Duxford Airshow is one of the largest warbird airshows in the UK and is always a popular airshow and aviation event.  Whiskey 7 is sure to draw a big crowd and lots of attention while she's there.

Close up of Whiskey 7 in a level pass during
"The Greatest Show on Turf," Geneseo 2010 Airshow.

National Warplane Museum's Douglas C-47 Whiskey 7 may very well be the only aircraft taking part in the 70th Anniversary of D-Day that will travel from such a distance.  You can help her and her crew and the National Warplane Museum make it happen by donating to the cause.  Visit the "Return to Normandy" website and make a donation, even purchase 1, 2, 3 or more gallons of fuel to assist in making this historic event happen in the memory of all those who participated in the invasion of France on D-Day, helping to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

Whiskey 7 on the grass at Geneseo not long after sunrise on a warm, July morning, left.  Landing in mid afternoon after completing one of several media flights during "The Greatest Show on Turf," 2011 Geneseo Airshow, right.

Return to Normandy:

NWM lovely Douglas C-47 over Geneseo, New York during
"The Greatest Show on Turf," 2010 Airshow.

Donate Fuel:

How members of the Airborne may have looked during World War II while waiting to board their C-47 or Dakota in preparation for their jumps during D-Day

Liberty Jump Team:

What part of a jump team camp may have looked like during World War II.

National Warplane Museum:

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Douglas Dakota "Canucks Unlimited" over Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum:

In a cloudy sky over Hamilton, Ontario Whiskey 7 turns for the circuit after a formation pass with CWH Museum's Dakota "Canucks Unlimited."

Duxford D-Day Air Show:

Whiskey 7 awaits Vintage Wings of Canada's Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI on final before she can take to the air.

Vintage Wings of Canada:

Close up with tail up, Whiskey 7 rolls down the runway.

More D-Day Celebrations, Ceremonies and Events:

As she may have looked taxiing out in late evening in a Wartime era photo.

D-Day 70: 1944 - 2014:

Another wartime-like photo of Whiskey 7 with the Airborne
exiting the aircraft over Normandy.

D-Day Revisted:

C-45 on final as Whiskey 7 waits for an opening to take to the air.         

2014 International D-Day Ceremony:

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

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