WWII Heritage Days to Commemorate D-Day’s 75th Anniversary

D-Day veteran C-47 "That's All --- Brother!" will visit WW2 Heritage Days, a few weeks before she returns to the skies above Normandy, France. (That's All Brother via Heritage Days)

ATLANTA — The 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe will be commemorated next weekend as historic warbirds, including three D-Day veteran aircraft highlight the WWII Heritage Days in Peachtree City.

The Commemorative Air Force Dixie Wing will host the 16th annual event on April 27 and 28. Warbird aircraft (the public can purchase to fly aboard), vintage cars, and live music from the Big Band era will pay tribute to the heroes of D-Day.

One of the unsung heroes of the Allied invasion of Normandy Beach was the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, which carried in paratroopers and supplies in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944. Two C-47s affectionately named Placid Lassie and That’s All — Brother! will join an unnamed third C-47A during Heritage Days.

Allied paratroopers depart a C-47 Skytrain over northern France on June 6, 1944. (US Army)

All three aircraft have been refurbished to their 1944 configuration. Heritage Days will mark the largest collection in the United States of flying C-47s prior to June.

“D-Day invasion really was the massive push to the liberation of Europe,” Chief Pilot of the D-Day Squadron recreation Eric Zipkin said from the flight line. “It was one of the first large scale airborne invasion efforts.”

This June, Zipkin will pilot Placid Lassie as the aircraft leads over 20 fellow C-47s from the United States loaded with dozens of paratroopers. The morning of the 75th anniversary, these aircraft will join many European C-47s as they fly from England to France to replicate D-Day.

C-47 Placid Lassie flew several missions with cargo and paratroopers during D-Day. (John Willhoff)

Known as Daks Over Normandy, the massive squadron formation of aircraft will honor the nearly 800 C-47s which carried about 24,000 paratroopers over the English Channel and into France. “The C-47 formed the backbone of the D-Day invasion, the initial waves, preparing the area for those brave soldiers who stormed the beaches,” Zipkin added.

“WWII Heritage Days is an immersion experience, and these aircraft, combined with the appearance of the Liberty Jump Team, will inspire people of all ages and walks of life to connect with the legacy of The Greatest Generation,” Dixie Wing Education Officer Rick Ector said on Wednesday.

The Liberty Jump Team, a group of veteran and current service members, will honor all veterans as they don historic army uniforms to commemorate the early airborne operations. Weather permitting, they will perform a jump each day just as they will do over Normandy in June.

Located at Falcon Field just south of Atlanta, the event is free to the public. Parking is $20 and will be available at Eaton’s Cooper Lighting. World War II veterans and the handicapped can be dropped off at the gate.

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)