WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB — Bright blue skies provided a perfect background when two vintage C-47 Skytrain aircraft flew over the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Wednesday. The warcraft and 17 paratroopers from across the U.S. were in town to honor the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force and to participate in Jim “Pee Wee” Martin’s 101st JumpFest Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30, at SkyDive Greene County.
The 1942 era planes — the Placid Lassie and the Tico Bell — took eight jumpers up each and special guest, Mae Krier, a WWII “Rosie the Riveter” worker who helped build the Memphis Belle decades ago, went along for the ride.
Martin, a WWII veteran, was in attendance but declined to jump. It wasn’t because of his advanced age but ground winds were gusting at 12 knots which made just getting in and out of the plane a struggle.
Two veteran paratroopers, who made a jump from Placid Lassie (a WWII transport plane that flew troops in and out of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944), spoke about why they participate in these types of events.
“We all belong to an “Airborne” brotherhood — we put a lot of trust and our lives — into other people’s hands,” said Brian Roorda, who jumped at 1,500 feet with others from the Round Canopy Parashooting Team (RCPT) based out of Florida.
Rooda and fellow jumper, Larry Ransom, belong to a non-profit group known as W&R Vets who travel the world to honor veterans and appear in several aviation, military museum, and air show events annually. Volunteers from RCPT and the Liberty Jump Team attend scheduled events with W&R Vets and pay for travel, lodging, and expenses out of their own pockets to honor fellow veterans and share their love of jumping with others.
“They don’t make parts for these old warbirds any more,” said Roorda, who described how much care and attention it takes to keep an 80-year-old plane running. “It probably costs $3,000 an hour in fuel just to fly in these events.”
Other upcoming Air Force commemoration events include the unveiling of a 75th Anniversary Exhibit in the museum’s Cold War Art Gallery, a World War II Memorial Exhibit, and a space celebration to name a few. To view a complete list of events visit https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Events/75th-anniversary/.
Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.