What to Know
- Eighteen historic planes soared over Southern California on Memorial Day
- The vintage planes were over the Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles counties.
- The formation was led by the World War II-era D-Day Doll, a Douglas C-53D manufactured in 1943 to carry paratroopers and cargo.
Eighteen historic planes were in formation over parts of Southern California in a 90-minute Memorial Day salute to veterans and healthcare workers.
D-Day Doll, a Douglas C-53D manufactured in 1943 at the assembly plant in Santa Monica to carry paratroopers and cargo in World War II, led the formation over the Inland Empire, Orange and Los Angeles counties. The formation also featured C-47 transports, T-6 Texans and P-51 Mustangs.
The D-Day Doll and other vintage planes are now based in Riverside at the Commemorative Air Force Inland Empire Wing Operations museum. After flying missions during World War II and then being converted to an airliner, D-Day Doll was acquired and restored by CAF IE Wing Operations in the 1990s.
"We came up with the idea after seeing the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels making the rounds," Commemorative Air Force Inland Empire Wing Operations Manager Bill Prosser said.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have crossed the country, making high-speed, low-pass appearances as part of "Operation America Strong." The Thunderbirds were in the Los Angeles metropolitan area two weeks ago.
Prosser said he and CAF IE Wing Commander Steve Rose reached out to organizations statewide to solicit support for what's been dubbed "Memorial Day: Operation Social Strong," and the response was immediate.
"We've got no sponsors, just partners," Prosser said. "We reached out to them, and they said, 'Heck, yeah, let's do this!'"
The formation has 19 designated flyover locations, listed below, in order of the planned itinerary, with the operation starting about noon:
- Loma Linda University Medical Center
- Riverside National Cemetery
- St. Joseph Hospital, Tustin
- John Wayne International Airport
- Pacific View Memorial Park, Corona Del Mar
- Newport Beach
- Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital
- Queen Mary
- USS Iowa Memorial
- Green Hills Memorial Park, Rancho Palos Verdes
- Zamperini Airport, Torrance
- Santa Monica Airport
- Los Angeles National Cemetery
- UCLA Medical Center
- USC Medical Center
- City of Hope Hospital
- Chino Municipal Airport
"On the D-Day Doll, we'll be carrying a veteran from each war going back 80 years -- a World War II vet, a Korean War vet, a Vietnam vet, an Afghanistan vet and an Iraqi Freedom vet," Prosser said. "We cannot forget our veterans who gave so much. Memorial Day is about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans Day is for all veterans. But Memorial Day is to honor all those who secured the freedoms we have today."
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He said with health care workers on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19, they deserve recognition on the occasion, as well.
"It's a way to say thank you," Prosser said.
Along with the CAF aircraft, the Palm Springs Air Museum's Planes of Fame will be in the formation, as well as a Flabob Express transport from Jurupa Valley, a historic aircraft owned by the Benovia Winery in Santa Rosa and Betsy's Biscuit Bomber, a restored C-47 based in Paso Robles.