After 2nd Day of Bad Weather, Vintage WWII Plane Flyover Scrapped for Good

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The World War II-era B-17G Texas Raiders is one of just a dozen or so Flying Fortresses still flying. The plane is owned and operated by the Texas-based nonprofit Commemorative Air Force. (Photo by Brendan McGarry/Military.com)
The World War II-era B-17G Texas Raiders is one of just a dozen or so Flying Fortresses still flying. The plane is owned and operated by the Texas-based nonprofit Commemorative Air Force. (Photo by Brendan McGarry/Military.com)

A planned flyover of Washington, D.C,. and the National Mall by World War II vintage aircraft was canceled again Saturday and the event will not be rescheduled, planners say.

The warbirds flyover was intended to be a stirring tribute to the "Greatest Generation."

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"Unfortunately the weather is not going to safely allow the aircraft to fly today [Saturday] through Washington D.C. airspace," the Arsenal For Democracy group organizing the flyover said on its Facebook page. "Since our authorization to fly through that restricted airspace will expire today, we won't be able to reschedule the flying portion of the program."

Instead, the group opted to present a pre-filmed, virtual tribute.

The Arsenal for Democracy had assembled aircraft, including the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-29 Superfortress and the P-51 Mustang, at suburban airports. They'd planned for the aircraft to fly over the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.

The initial plan, a Friday flyover, was scrapped because of weather. The Arsenal of Democracy cited poor weather again Saturday. On both days, skies were overcast but it was not raining at the times set for the flyovers.

On Friday, sparse crowds had gathered on the Mall in anticipation of the flyover, unaware that it had been canceled.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Sid Wade, 71, of Jonesville, Virginia, a National Park Service volunteer, was at the World War II Memorial to greet visitors wearing the uniform of an Army WWII tech sergeant.

Wade said he often speaks with WWII veterans who come to the Memorial. "Some will say 'I really didn't do anything,'" Wade said. "They were regular people who stood up and did what they had to do."

The flyover had initially been scheduled for May 8, the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, celebrating the WWII Allies' Victory in Europe, but was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The May 8 cancellation of the flyover joined a long list of ceremonial occasions this year that have been canceled, scaled back or made virtual because of the pandemic.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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