There seem to be more planes parked on the green grounds of Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis., than there are cloverleaves in the grass beneath their wheels. The airport is the home of the annual EAA AirVentures air show – the world’s largest gathering for flying enthusiasts (see below). Here, all the planes, their pilots and owners each tell their own unique story.
Take the World War II-era Douglass C-47 Skytrain transport plane parked just a few steps from the GE Aviation pavilion here. The flakes of its peeling, gunship-green paint coat flutter in the Wisconsin wind like hangnails. It’s clear that the plane has seen better days. But the weathered look gives its story even more gravitas.
The plane’s name painted on its one – That’s All, Brother – was the crew’s bold message to Adolf Hitler that his time was up.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, just three months after That’s All, Brother rolled off the assembly line in Tulsa, Okla., the plane took off into the night from the Royal Air Force’s Greenham Common base in the south of England, leading 800 allied aircraft over the Channel into Normandy.
It was the largest airborne formation the world has ever seen and carried 13,000 paratroopers whose mission was to jump behind enemy lines.
The plane survived the mission and other wartime sorties over France, Holland and Germany, before it returned unharmed to the United States in 1945. But, despite its achievements, it it cycled through 16 different owners ended up in a bone yard, until a group of enthusiasts from the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) saved it and launched a Kickstarter campaign to restore it.
Although the C-47 remains earthbound for the moment, the CAF flew here fully functional B-29 and B-52 bombers.
Between flyovers, the planes are parked just a short walk from the latest planes like the HondaJet business jet, some of the world’s oldest planes like the Wright brothers’ “B” flier, and experimental planes that force visitors to suspend their disbelief that they can actually fly.
Pilot and photographer Adam Senatori, who flew his Cessna-172 here on Monday morning, took a walk around the show with his camera and captured some of the highlights from the first day. Take a look and stay tuned to our Periscope channel @ge_reports for live streaming of flyovers and other events.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense