Culpeper Regional Airport, which received national publicity as host of the Potomac Flight last October, has achieved an even greater aviation coup.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, a World War II Victory Capitol Flyover will originate from the Culpeper airport on May 8 and fly to Washington and back.
The flight, featuring dozens of vintage World War II aircraft, will be part of the three-day Arsenal of Democracy celebration in Washington. The flyover is planned to occur during a ceremony at the National World War II Memorial.
As of Friday, 73 vintage aircraft had committed to the Arsenal for Democracy flight, said Culpeper airport spokesman Mike Dale, who is in charge of logistics for the event.
“Every single type of aircraft that flew in World War II will be at Culpeper Regional Airport with the exception of six B–24s, the B–17s and the B–29 Superfortresses,” Dale said.
Those larger bombers, which would take up too much ramp space at Culpeper, will be flown out of the Manassas airport.
“We’ll have everything from the small L–4 Scout to the King Cobras and the P–39s,” Dale said. “These are airplanes that are very seldom seen anywhere these days.”
Dale said it’s possible that as many as 87 planes may take part in the event. Handling such a large number of planes will not be easy for a small-town airport.
“We maintain about 10,000 gallons of airplane fuel in our farm and we figure we will probably need about 25,000 gallons to accommodate these planes,” Dale said.
He added that the airport plans to have three tankers with an additional 8,000 gallons of fuel on hand for the three-day event. The airport will contract for another 8,000 gallons to be brought in as needed.
“These old planes use a lot of oil,” he said.
Dale said the event is expected to have a major economic impact.
“We have already booked 100 rooms [at local motels] and I expect we will need more,” Dale said. “We will have about 150 lunches brought in each day and there is a big dinner planned.”
How did Culpeper Regional Airport accomplish this aviation coup?
Dale, who was president of Jaguar Motors North American Division before retiring, happened to know Peter Bunce, who is president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which is organizing the flight.
“Pete has always thought that Culpeper has one of the best-run small airports in the country,” Dale said.
Then, too, Culpeper Regional Airport is located an almost perfect distance from Washington for such a flyover. The airport was the base for the Potomac Flight last fall, which included some World War II-era planes flying over national landmarks such as the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.
Honorary co-chairmen for the Arsenal of Democracy celebration in Washington include former President George H.W. Bush, former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas and former Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, all World War II veterans.
“As far as aviation is concerned, this is the biggest event ever to happen in Culpeper,” said Dale.
Unlike the Culpeper Airfest, which Dale has chaired for the past several years, the public will not be allowed to touch these Arsenal of Democracy vintage planes because of security concerns. County Administrator Frank Bossio said arrangements are expected to be made to allow viewing at a distance.
For more information about the event, visit ww2flyover.org or ww2flyover on Facebook.