JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Living on or near a military base comes with a perk that some residents refer to as “the sound of freedom.” Just after noon May 8, the familiar roar of jet engines and the whir of helicopter blades was replaced by the buzz of 12 vintage single-engine fighter planes as they soared down the Interstate 5 corridor in a tight formation over Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The flyover, performed by the Cascade Warbirds – an organization dedicated to promote the restoration, preservation, operation and public display of historically significant military aircraft – commemorated the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
Often referred to as VE Day, the occasion marks the celebration of the formal acceptance of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender and the end of WWII in Europe May 8, 1945.
“We fly historic aircraft and have a strong interest in historic events,” said Kerry Edwards, Cascade Warbirds spokesman. “Because a good many of our members are veterans, this VE Day is highly significant.”
The planes in the flyover included four North American T-6 Texans, two Nanchang CJs and six North American L-17 Navions.
“Airshows have been key to educating the general public about military aviation, historic aviation and how it all comes together,” Edwards said. “Our pilot owners love to fly at airshows and then stand by their planes and talk with young and old about what it means and what this kind of flying is all about.”
The formation departed Arlington Airport in Snohomish County and flew a route over Highway 99 south over the cities of Marysville, Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline, Seattle, Burien, Tukwila, SeaTac, Des Moines, Federal Way, Fife, Tacoma and JBLM.
Following the flyover of the historical planes, two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing flew a two-ship formation over 43 healthcare facilities throughout the Puget Sound region, including those in the greater Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle metropolitan areas.
“The 62nd AW salutes each American serving on the frontlines in combat against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Robert V. Lankford, commander of the 62nd Operations Group. “We are grateful for the opportunity to show our appreciation to local heroes and look forward to a time when we can embrace one another without fear.”
The Air Force is hosting flyovers throughout the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, in an effort to show appreciation to the thousands of American heroes who are at the front line battling COVID-19 and providing the support that America needs.