FAA: Big tech challenges for massive Washington, DC warbirds flyover

Celebrating 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day with 56 WWII aircraft buzzing the city


B-17 in foreground; P-51 aft.

Credit: Reuters

It will be one of the largest gatherings of flying WWII aircraft in history as 56 famous vintage warbirds will fly through restricted airspace over the National Mall Friday in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of VE-Day or Victory in Europe Day.

The huge flyover, dubbed the “The Arsenal of Democracy,” of so many different types of aircraft – from seaplanes to fighters and the only flying B-29 Superfortress – was no easy undertaking.

rtr1r1qa Reuters

P-38 Lightning (right); P-51 (left)

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For example, the airplanes in the Flyover must have a minimum 2,000-foot ceiling and 5-mile visibility for the event to take place. They will fly at an altitude of 1,000 feet. During the events, the use of small drones or quadcopter devices is strictly prohibited within the Washington, DC area.

The FAA wrote that “The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) was granted three exemptions from Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) section 91.319(c), which states that no person may operate an experimental type certificated aircraft over a densely populated area or in a congested airway. The FAA’s General Aviation and Commercial Division, part of the Flight Standards Service, worked with both the Washington and Baltimore Flight Standard District Offices and used a risk-based decision making process to allow this historic undertaking.”

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The FAA also had to work with the myriad agencies you might expect from the Transportation Security Administration and Secret Service to the Capitol Police to smoothly pull this event off.

But an event it will be as vintage aircraft such as a P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt, FG-1D Corsair, B-25 Mitchell, B-17 Flying Fortress and many others will fly together in small groups.

The first plane should be visible along the National Mall around 12:10 p.m. With roughly 90 seconds between formations, the Flyover will end by 1 p.m. Reagan National Airport will be closed to commercial traffic from 12 noon to 1 p.m. to accommodate the flights.

The Flyover will be streamed live HERE.

rtrrw1o Reuters

The B-29 bomber, Enola Gay, on display at the Smithsonian Steven Udvar-Hazy Center. With a wingspan of 141 feet (43 meters) and a gross weight of 137,500 pounds (62,370 kilograms), the Enola Gay was too large and heavy to be housed at the museum's flagship building on the National Mall. The only flying B-29 will take part in the VE flyover.

The events in the air and others on the ground are meant to honor the many who fought in the War and those on the home front who produced the tanks, ships, and aircraft that enabled the United States and its Allies to achieve victory, the commemorative group stated.

For a comprehensive look at the aircraft of the flyover take a gander at this Washington Post roundup.

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