WWII fighters roar into Atlanta

Tue, 08/12/2008 - 4:25pm
By: The Citizen

PDK first stop on 2008 Great Atlanta Warbird Tour

Armchair aviators and World War II history buffs will get a chance to fly back in time when three WWII-era aircraft touchdown at Peachtree-Dekalb (PDK) Airport on Saturday, August 16. The airplanes, maintained and flown by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing, will provide enthusiasts with a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to recreate and preserve history by purchasing a ride in one the vintage planes. The CAF Dixie Wing aircraft will be based at Atlantic Aviation from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

The United States produced over 300,000 aircraft during the Second World War. Today, few exist except in museums or in the hands of private collectors. Some examples can be seen at air shows, but public flights outside of large aviation events are uncommon. The fly-in is the first stop on the CAF Dixie Wing 2008 Great Atlanta Warbird Tour of metro-area municipal airports.

Other stops include Kennesaw, Hampton and Peachtree City, the organization’s home base.

“We believe the best way to preserve the legacy of the Greatest Generation is to allow the public to see and hear these machines in flight or experience a ride in an aircraft that changed the course of history” said Chris Madrid, CAF Dixie Wing Public Information Officer.

Founded in 1987, the CAF Dixie Wing is the Georgia chapter of the 50 year-old Commemorative Air Force, a 501c3 dedicated to restoring and flying WWII aircraft as tribute to America’s veterans, particularly the Greatest Generation, the men and women who won the World War II.

The daily loss of 1,200 WWII veterans has created a sense of urgency for the all-volunteer organization.

Leading the tour is a North American P-51 Mustang, arguably the best all-around fighter of the Second World War. Accompanying the Mustang will be a North American LT-6 Mosquito and Fairchild PT-26 Cornell primary trainer. The Mosquito, restored to represent an aircraft flown during the Korean War, received a “Judge’s Choice” award at Sun N Fun in April 2008.

Members donate their time to maintain each aircraft, which all sport WWII or Korean War paint schemes. Repairs can cost up to $125,000 if an engine must be replaced. Air show appearances, fund-raisers and donations support ongoing operations of the wing.

Prices for rides vary, but start at $95 in the PT-26. The money benefits the CAF Dixie Wing and is tax-deductible.

“We believe we are stewards of American history,” said Madrid, who has been a member of the group for eight years. “We hope our Summer Rides Tour will keep ’em flying for future generations.”

Rides can be purchased in advance by calling the CAF Dixie Wing at 678-364-1110. For more information about The Great Atlanta Warbird Tour or the CAF Dixie Wing, visit www.dixiewing.org.

The Commemorative Air Force is a non-profit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft. Based in Midland, Texas, the organization has over 9,500 members and operates a fleet of over 150 World War II aircraft. Visit www.commemorativeairforce.org for more info.

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