WASHINGTON (WJZ) — A rare display of history took wing over the nation’s capital, as dozens of World War II aircraft flew down the National Mall.
Alex DeMetrick was there on the ground, as history passed by overhead.
The flyover marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day–the day Germany surrendered, and World War II ended in Europe.
You won’t see vintage World War II bombers rounding the Washington Monument every day, and that’s exactly what drew thousands to the National Mall.
“To commemorate an anniversary such as VE Day is just wonderful,” said Corlyss Chung.
Seventy planes for the 70th anniversary of victory in Europe were given rare clearance to fly in the most heavily restricted airspace in the country. After the 9/11 terror attacks, it was questionable if it would ever be allowed.
And there was one incident, as a World War II fighter peeled off from its formation. A problem with the plane forced the pilot to make an emergency landing at nearby Reagan International Airport.
No one was hurt; nothing to mar the day.
Visitors wowed over the last Super Fortress left in the air–the same type of plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima three months after VE Day, and ended World War II in August of 1945.
“It’s nice that the history can continue for the kids who weren’t alive or who read about it in history books. It really makes it significantly more real for them,” said Vickie Sinnett.
The planes not only touch on history; for some, they bring personal memories alive.
“I had two grandfathers who fought in World War II, so it’s a real honor to be able to see this,” said Adam Goldstein.
“One of my good friend’s fathers was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, my uncle served in the Air Force in the Korean War, my dad served in World War II,” said Ed Galiber.
“I don’t know. Something about the greatest generation and seeing the things they were able to do in the planes they were able to do it in is amazing to me,” said Cooper Nordquint.
Amazing, indeed. It took clearance from a number of federal agencies to stage the flyover, including the Secret Service.
There was some debate among the organizers to stage the fly-in on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, ending World War II, but the reputation of August heat in D.C. versus a pleasant day in May moved the celebration to VE Day.