D-Day 2024 Legacy Tour Planned

Squadron’s fundraising has already exceeded its primary goal as part of effort to mark the invasion’s 80th anniversary.

In 2024 the D-Day Squadron plans to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Allied forces’ invasion of Normandy and honor those who fought. [Courtesy: D-Day Squadron]

June 6, 2024, will mark the 80th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, better known as D-Day. On that day more than 11,000 aircraft were mobilized as Allied forces began a massive land, sea, and air mission that marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

In 2024 the D-Day Squadron plans to commemorate the event and honor those who fought, but they need your help. The squadron, made up of Douglas DC-3/C-47/C-53 airplanes, is raising money with the help of Five Oaks Consulting and a crowdfunding campaign. They need to raise at least $7,500 to kick off publicity efforts for the trip they are calling "The 2024 Legacy Tour.” The full D-Day Squadron campaign over the next year will exceed $1 million.

In 2019 the group commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day with a flight of 15 Douglas DC-3s and C-47s from the U.S. to the U.K., across the English Channel and over the Normandy beaches to Berlin.

The campaign goals for the 2024 Legacy Tour are to honor "the many men and women who served in WWII and those who preserved freedom and liberty afterward at the onset of the Cold War. The D-Day Squadron’s goal is to provide equal recognition for the Berlin Airlift as D-Day."

The Berlin Airlift

After WWII, Berlin was divided into sectors run by the Allied nations: the U.S., France, Great Britain, and Russia. In June 1948 the Russians—who wanted the capital city for themselves—closed all highways, railroads, and canals from Western-occupied Germany into Western-occupied Berlin. The Russians thought this would make it impossible for the people who lived there to receive food or any other supplies and would eventually drive the Allies out for good.

Instead, the U.S., France, and Britain took to the air to supply the city. The “Berlin Airlift” was a constant stream of aircraft coming in and going to three airports within the city. This effort, also known as "Operation Vittles," lasted from June 24, 1948, to May 12, 1949, and carried more than 2.3 million tons of cargo into the besieged city. Aircraft that only a few years early were carrying bombs were converted into freighters with thousands of pounds of powdered milk, coal, medical supplies, and clothing aboard for the city that had mostly been reduced to rubble during the wartime bombings.

The event is cited by some as the beginning of the Cold War, as no shots were fired, but the tension was palatable. Today, the Berlin Airlift is often no more than a paragraph in a textbook. although many of those who served during World War II continued to do so in Germany as part of the airlift.

The Legacy Campaign Continues

The 2024 Legacy Tour Kickstarter campaign has been underway since May.

According to David O'Connor, campaign manager and owner of Five Oaks Creative, the drive was slated to run 30 days. It has been successful—with four days to go, the primary goal has already been met, said O'Connor, adding the group  did so , fittingly, on June 6.

“The 2024 Legacy Tour Kickstarter campaign is officially at ‘boots on the ground’ status,” said O’Connor. “However, we still have a long way to go—the planes do too! Starting from the United States in May of next year, the aircraft must complete six total flight legs to Europe involving crew rest, refueling, proper maintenance, formation planning, and logistics. This Kickstarter campaign is specifically focusing on the planning and logistics of the 2024 Legacy Tour, which, as you can imagine, are complex and extensive.

“The 30-day campaign met and exceeded the goal of $7,500, so much so that we decided to add a $10,000 stretch goal. If we meet that goal, each backer will get a challenge coin."

O’Connor added that the new 2024 Legacy Tour artwork and campaign logo, designed by Chad Hill at Django Studios, were released on June 6. 

“These visuals will serve as the heart and soul of the upcoming mission and are currently available as exclusive merchandise found only on the active Kickstarter campaign,” he O’Connor.

O'Connor noted that this is his company's sixth crowdfunding campaign for WWII aircraft. Five Oaks also raises money for STEM education.

The Legacy Plan 2024

The plans for the 2024 tour are as follows: In late May, the DC-3, C-47, and C-53 aircraft will mobilize in the Northeast U.S. for training then will set out across the North Atlantic as a squadron. The flight plan takes the group across via Presque Isle, Maine; Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Canada; Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, and England.

There will be multiple events at local museums, as well as flyovers and photo flights before the English Channel crossing.

The squadron is expected to be in Normandy around June 5 or before—those dates are still being confirmed. The Berlin Airlift commemoration is slated for June 11 to 14, followed by tentative stops in Lido, Italy, and Portugal.

The group will return to the U.S. in late June.

These plans are tentative and may change because of weather, equipment issues, and/or political climate.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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