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Up, Up and Away!

WWII planes take to the skies in Leesburg

May 2024

  • Boeing PT-17 Stearman
  • Fairchild UC-61 Forwarder
  • Japanese Fuji LM-1
  • French Alouette II

by Gregg MacDonald, Staff Writer

On May 18 and 19, the skies above Loudoun County, Va., will buzz with vintage World War II airplanes.

On those dates, the Capital Wing of the Commemorative Air Force will bring its WWII Warbird Showcase to the Leesburg Executive Airport to provide residents in northern Virginia and surrounding communities the opportunity to see and hear vintage WWII warbirds.

The event supports the Capital Wing mission to “Keep ‘Em Flying” and to honor those who built, serviced and originally flew these aircraft.

“The Capital Wing is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization with over 100 members based at the Culpeper Regional Airport,” says Warbird Rides Coordinator Peter Ballard. “We have a dedication to operate, maintain and preserve these aircraft as symbols of our American military aviation heritage, and as a tribute to the thousands of men and women who built, serviced and flew our warbirds.”

Rides will be offered to the public in three different vintage planes. Headlining the warbird rides will be a Stinson OY-1 with combat missions in its logbook at the Battle of Saipan.

“On the weekend of this Leesburg event, 80 years ago, our Stinson was on the escort carrier, White Plains, steaming toward Saipan in the south Pacific,” Ballard says.

Rides will also be available in a Fairchild Forwarder, which carries up to three passengers, and a Boeing PT-17 Stearman open-cockpit biplane.

Ballard says the mission of the event is to “perpetuate in the memory and hearts of all Americans the spirit in which these great planes were originally flown in the defense of our nation.”

In addition to warbird rides, attendees will also get a close-up view of several grounded warbirds, including a Japanese Fuji LM-1, one of only three in the world; a Navion L-17 post-WWII warbird that served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and a French Alouette II, the world’s first jet-powered helicopter.

Other attractions at the Warbird Showcase event include a recreated Capital Wing PX selling military and aviation-themed items, and a B-26 twin 50-caliber machine gun turret.

In addition to the Leesburg event, the Capital Wing will present its Warbird Showcase throughout the mid-Atlantic region in 2024, including on Father’s Day weekend at the Cumberland, Md., airport.

For more information, visit capitalwingwarbirdrides.org, or email [email protected].