The skies above Frederick were filled last weekend with the thrilling sights and reverberating sounds of the past, the present and perhaps even the future of aviation.
Thousands made the trek to Frederick Municipal Airport to see the great birds in person, but thousands more were amazed to look up from the driveway or deck to see and hear a bit of the show go rumbling overhead.
It was all part of the big Fly-In event Friday and Saturday by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, commemorating the group’s 80th anniversary. Hundreds of private aircraft flew into Frederick to participate in the celebration.
The stars of the show were the five C-47 and DC-3 aircraft from the D-Day Squadron and the members of the Liberty Jump Team, who re-enacted the parachute jump that was an integral part of the D-Day attack on Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, during World War II.
While 133,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers stormed the beaches that day, an additional 15,500 Americans and 7,900 British and Canadian paratroopers jumped from planes behind enemy lines to attack the Germans from the rear.
Those U.S. paratroopers jumped from the very same planes that were flying over Frederick, and the Liberty Jump Team was dressed in World War II-style uniforms and using the parachutes of that era.
The successful assault on Normandy was the beginning of the invasion of Europe, which led to the German surrender a year later.
The planes and men of the D-Day Squadron and the jump team will be traveling soon to England and then flying once again over the Norman coast in a huge re-enactment of the attack in June, marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It was a special treat to host them here in Frederick before they fly off to Europe.
AOPA, which is based in Frederick, said that more than 11,000 people attended the event this year, which it said was the largest crowd ever to come to a Fly-In.
The weather was a little rough on Friday but cleared considerably on Saturday and the crowds came out to look at the planes and watch the demonstrations. In addition to the D-Day re-enactment, AOPA invited fliers from around the country to participate in a short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) demonstration.
It was the first time ever for the invitational event to be held at the Frederick airport, the group said. STOL features aircraft with big tires and tailwheels taking off and landing in short distances, similar to what planes need to do in rugged backcountry airstrips.
Elizabeth Tennyson, executive director of AOPA’s You Can Fly program, summed up the two-day event for News-Post reporter CJ Fairfield.
“It’s hugely exciting to be at your home airport and have people come out and see what aviation is all about,” she said. “We work with pilots, young people and old people all the time. To have them come out and see an airplane, touch an airplane, understand how much fun aviation is and how much we enjoy it and want to share that with people, that’s what’s really exciting.”
We want to wish our friends and neighbors at AOPA a happy 80h birthday and offer our thanks to them for bringing the great collection of aircraft to our city. The Fly-In was a special event.