D-Day Squadron Calls “Mission Accomplished”

The organization will continue into the future with airshow and education outreach.

Garrett Fleishman of the D-Day Squadron wants to inspire young people to get into historic aviation.Julie Boatman

The D-Day Squadron, which flew 15 C-47 variant airplanes to Europe for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion and the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, reported at EAA AirVenture on its successful mission and plans for future airshow and education outreach.

Eric Zipkin, chief pilot and aircraft commander on Placid Lassie, lead aircraft for the squadron, expressed his thanks to the team for their incredible efforts over 56-plus days on the road together to make it all happen. “I wasn’t sure what we were biting off when we started,” he said, speaking of the two-and-a-half years of planning that went into the mission.

Garrett Fleishman, graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, age 21, represented one of the youngest current DC-3/C-47 pilots, and related his experience during the mission. “I was using my young age to inspire our youth to get interested in aviation history,” said Fleishman.

Crystal Schonemann, from the crew of Miss Montana, talked about her role as an A&P technician in training, and being one of very few young people in general—and certainly few women—to complete their training on the C-47. “We spent the last ten months working on her, days, evenings, weekends….having that journey meant so much.”

Next up for the Tunison Foundation (operator of Placid Lassie) and the D-Day Squadron? To extend the mission forward. Zipkin indicated this would include "airshows and education," but would not elaborate at this point. A documentary is also in the works. For now, you can watch the team's film on YouTube.