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Aerial Parades Over Hawaii to Commemorate End of WWII

When warbirds fill the skies over Hawaii to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of World War II’s end, the journey of one aircraft across time and distance to participate will represent a special salute to the Greatest Generation’s defenders of freedom from its owner, himself a Navy veteran.

The airplane is Old Glory, a North American B–25 Mitchell bomber that took off from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on July 30 on a flight to Naval Base San Diego in California, where it was lifted by crane onto the deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex for transport to Pearl Harbor with 13 other World War II-era aircraft for commemoration events scheduled between August 29 and September 2. The aircraft flew in three Legacy of Peace Aerial Parades consisting of a flight around Oahu on August 29, a flight “Connecting the Military Bases” on August 30, and a “Fly Over the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pearl Harbor to Waikiki” mission as part of the commemoration ceremony on September 2.

The commemoration’s concluding ceremony aboard the USS Missouri will be streamed live around the world.

“While most of the events planned for the commemoration were modified, cancelled or moved to virtual viewing, the flyovers may be enjoyed by both residents and the veterans in attendance, many of whom were present as some of these aircraft flew over the deck of the Missouri on September 2, 1945 as the Instrument of Surrender that ended WWII was signed,” the commemoration organization said in an August 11 news release. (In a related development, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum announced that it would close from August 27 until September 9 to comply with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s stay-at-home order to fight the coronavirus pandemic.)

Old Glory is owned by U.S. Navy veteran and warbird collector David Prescott, founder of the Prescott Foundation, whose lifelong passion for aviation has found expression as a pilot and flight instructor. Prescott, along with foundation representative Laura DiRado, joined Old Glory’s pilots Syd Jones, Paul Reidy, and Syd Jones’ wife KT Budde-Jones, for the weeklong sea voyage to Hawaii.

The Honolulu stay-at-home order made the aerial components of the commemoration event more important for honoring the World War II veterans who are still living, said Prescott, whose aircraft has been conducting publicity flights since arriving in Hawaii.