ATLANTA — Popular aircraft flown during World War II and Korea will take center stage on Saturday and Sunday as the local Commemorative Air Force hosts an Atlanta Warbird Weekend at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.
The non-airshow two-day event will also celebrate the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the graduation of the first African-American aviators from Tuskegee, Alabama, who blazed a trail in the Army Air Corps program training to fly and maintain combat aircraft.
A traveling multimedia exhibit known as Rise Above: Red Tail will be on hand to present the story of the Red Tails and the Tuskegee pilots who flew them. Guests can view an informative movie and browse images in the exhibit.
“We are bringing at least 20 original Tuskegee Airmen veterans to share in the acknowledgment of the outstanding history of the black aviators who overcame prejudice and adversity to serve their country so well,” said Moreno Aguiari, Atlanta Warbird Weekend Chairman, on Thursday. “We also plan to exhibit aircraft flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, including… an original Tuskegee Airmen T-6 will appear courtesy of the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum out of Detroit. It was delivered to Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama in 1943.”
The T-6 Texan, FG-1D Corsair, and many more planes built and flown in the years preceding the jet age will sit poised on the flight line at the north Atlanta airport. The addition of two historic aircraft will include the rare visit of the B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-25J Mitchell bomber. The two will sit on static display where guests can receive a ground tour of each aircraft, or for a fee, they can fly aboard the aircraft of choice.
Known as “Aluminum Overcast”, the B-17 was a heavy bomber during World War II, including flying day time bombing runs against Germany. Sporting four prop engines, the silver aircraft measuring 74-feet long and a wing span of 104-feet, the “Aluminum Overcast” will become a crowd favorite this weekend.
The aircraft’s ball-turet, or gun turret, is one the more popular sections of the B-17. A World War II veteran and special guest attending the Atlanta Warbird Weekend knows first hand what it is like inside the spherical-shaped housing.
“It was a comfortable position, it was the only place you could lay on your back and fight the war at the same time,” said SSgt Henry Hughey (Ret.) who flew 31 missions as a B-17 ball turret gunner during World War II. “The B-17 was a wonderful piece of machinery. It would take a pounding and still keep flying.”
Guests attending warbird weekend can take a special flight into history and travel aboard the B-17 Flying Fortress this weekend. Advanced reservations are recommeded including full details and availability, however walk-ups will be available based on limited seating.
Nearly two thousand visitors are expected to attend each day to receive an up close look at the 1940-era planes as live music and rare radio news reports from the front lines of the second world war play across the loud speakers.
The Commemorative Air Force, a non-profit organization designed to “restore and fly World War II aircraft in tribute to America’s veterans”, will bring together former pilots and veterans of World War II and Korea.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)