NORWICH – When the allies landed in mainland Europe on June 6, 1944, D-Day, in the skies above Whiskey 7 led a flight of C-47 Dakota transport planes that dropped paratroopers and cargo on the battlefield.
Whiskey 7 flew from the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo to attend Airport Day on Saturday at the Lt. Warren E. Eaton Airport in Norwich. The aircraft led a first strike of the D-Day invasion over Ste. Mere Eglise in Normandy, France.
“With beautiful weather, Airport Day on Saturday, June 11, was a huge success. As always, the focus of the day was connecting our local residents to all the airport has to offer while also pushing STEM Education,” said Chenango County Airport Administrator Shane Butler. “Airport Day is a community event where we try our best to get the community up to the airport to see all we have to offer.”
Whiskey 7 provided rides to 56 people during the event, including several veterans of various foreign wars, and families or guests who signed up.
The veteran plane was flown by Warplane Museum volunteers and experienced pilots, Craig Wadsworth and Ruben Alconero.
As the plane took off, the twin engine propellers screamed with horsepower and caused the inside of the plane to vibrate like a sports car engine.
In flight the noise pitched lower, but the engine still rumbled so loud you had to shout to be heard by the person next to you. The plane gently surfed through the air and circled the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford before returning to the airport – a quick 20 minute ride. The landing and take off were so seamless, if it wasn't for the tone of the engine changing, you could barely tell when you touched or left the ground.
Saturday saw excellent weather and the event hosted displays and presentations from a number of area groups, including professionals from the aviation field; DCMO BOCES with information on Career Destinations program and Air Patrol program; U.S. Air Force recruiters; and Mohawk Valley Community College with the Air Frame program.
The New York State Police Aviation unit was on hand, the police K-9 and car crash simulator offered demonstrations, a LifeNet helicopter did a fly-in, and Just Jump Skydiving, a family owned and operated skydiving company, gave skydiving demonstrations.
The EAA Chapter 1204 had five pilots providing Young Eagle rides to youth ages 8 to 17 throughout the day, with a total of 84 kids taking rides and learning about the inner workings of the planes.
According to the National Warplane Museum, on D-Day, W-7 transported paratroopers from the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division and participated in Operation NEPTUNE. The aircraft was actually one of the few that made it to the drop-zone assigned to the paratroopers. Flak was very heavy during these missions, but this C-47 managed to survive it all.
The aircraft originally served with the 12th Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater in 1943 and the 9th Air Force in England, 1944 to 1945, as part of the 316th Troop Carrier Group.