Home of Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber, Estrella Warbirds Museum to reopen May 28

On Monday, May 25, Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber, the museum’s C-47 display owned by the Gooney Bird Group will participate with the D-Day Squadron in the ‘SoCal Strong’ Memorial Day Flyover Mission to Salute Veteran’s and Frontline Covid-19 Healthcare Workers. Pilots Sherm Smoot and Scott Stelzle will be flying the WWII C-47 over Southern California.

Scott Stelzle, Estrella Warbirds Museum Chief Operations Officer and Co-pilot of Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber notes, “The Memorial Day Formation Flight will be symbolic for many reasons. But importantly, it was exactly one year ago from this Memorial Day that Sherman Smoot and I flew this historic plane over the North Atlantic to Normandy, commemorating those who were lost in the fight for our freedom during WWII, 75 years ago on D-Day. Monday’s flight is a way to put this Covid pandemic behind us as we honor the new heroes that helped us get through these dark days.”

June 6, 1944 marks the date when approximately 160,000 Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches that began the liberation of Western Europe. The assault was preceded by 24,000 troops who parachuted in or came by glider. The most important aircraft to support the airborne assault was formed by over 800 Douglas C-47 Skytrains (Dakotas). 

“Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber,” a WWII C-47 built by Douglas Aircraft of Santa Monica is owned and operated by The Gooney Bird Group, LLC, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization located in Paso Robles, CA. The group is dedicated to preserving and maintaining airworthy historical planes, and educating current and future generations of the engineering achievements, and personal sacrifices made by our military men and women. 

Daks Over Normandy was the largest assembly of authentic C-47 World War II aircraft and paratroopers since June 6, 1944 to honor veterans and war heroes for their service and sacrifice in the Allied victory in World War II. Aircraft from around the globe participated in commemorative events before and after the June 6 flyover with community activities and static displays in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, and the United States. 

“Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber” is a featured display at Estrella Warbirds Museum located at 4251 Dry Creek Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446. The museum is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10am – 4pm; and Legal Monday Holidays (President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day). Visit: www.ewarbirds.org. For information, contact Scott Stelzle at: scottstelzle@ewarbirds.org.

Estrella Warbirds Museum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of military aviation history is reopening its doors to the public on Thursday, May 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. following the COVID 19 pandemic closure. The public is encouraged to visit the museum located at 4251 Dry Creek Road in Paso Robles, California to see the planes and artifacts up close and personal in a safe environment as we resume operations. Please visit: www.ewarbirds.org for more information and admission prices.


Operation SoCal Strong D-Day Squadron

[From The D-Day Squadron Press Release]

Taking a proactive approach to their commemorative operations and flyovers, four members of the D-Day Squadron undergo flight planning and formation preparations this week to bring hope, appreciation and honor with their ‘Operation SoCal Strong’ flyover on Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. This 90-min flyover begins at noon pacific time over Loma Linda Medical Center and ends at Chino Airport. The entire flight path is provided in the accompanying graphic. 

No stranger to tight formation and tribute flights, this squadron, a year ago yesterday, launched from Oxford, Connecticut’s KOXC airport for their “Mission to Normandy.”  They successfully crossed the North Atlantic with 15 C-47 and DC-3 aircraft, completing multiple paratrooper drops and a Presidential flyover while participating in events including the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, and commemorations in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Italy. 

The Memorial Day flyover features D-Day Squadron aircraft D-Day Doll C-53 of the Commemorative Air Force’s Inland Empire Wing (IEW), leading fellow squadron aircraft Flabob Express C-47, Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber C-47 and Spirit of Benovia C-53.  Also joining the squadron is ‘What’s Up Doc’ C-47 of the Palm Springs Air Museum, Condor Squadron’s T-6s, and it’s expected other WWII-era aircraft will join as well. 

“Our mission flying WWII aircraft over parts of Southern California for Memorial Day is to salute our veterans who sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today.  In addition, we will acknowledge the many medical personnel, first responders, and citizens who have provided unwavering support in caring for the local populace during this pandemic,” shared Steve Rose, IEW wing leader, and pilot of D-Day Doll. “To join again with fellow squadron members is an honor and we appreciate everyone volunteering their time and aircraft to participate in this flight.”

Various targets of the flyover include two national cemeteries, VA medical centers, airports, landmark piers and harbors, the Queen Mary and Battleship USS Iowa. Lead aircraft, D-Day Doll, plans to bring on board veterans from WWII, Korea and Vietnam conflicts. “Our goal is to signal to all Southern Californians to remain vigilant during these adverse times as our Greatest Generation have,” added Steve Rose. 

“We are glad to see these crews honor our health care workers and to provide a hopeful reminder that America can overcome the current pandemic, just as those that came before us unified to defeat a dangerous enemy,” shared Kevin Riley, executive director of the D-Day Squadron. “Our organization is proud to see the formation procedures honed by these crews in Normandy on display in the United States for the people of Southern California.” 

Interviews with these squadron members are available. Charitable and corporate giving opportunities are encouraged to help offset the cost of fuel for each participating aircraft. For media or donation interest, please contact: Lyndse Costabile at lyndse@ddaysquadron.org or 904-404-9192. 

For photos of the squadron aircraft involved and route graphic, please visit: Operation SoCal Strong Photos and Graphics

Follow the D-Day Squadron flyovers, events and other missions on Facebook, and Instagram. Subscribe to their YouTube Channel for the latest video productions. 

About the D-Day Squadron

The D-Day Squadron is the part of the Tunison Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. It is currently in process of becoming a DC-3 society to promote DC-3 type aircraft airworthiness, serve members and promote static and flying displays for future generations. Its mission will educate and involve the next generation in “flying freedom” and celebrate everything the DC-3 has accomplished in war and peace.

In June 2019, the D-Day Squadron led an American fleet of 15 historic, restored C-47 World War II military aircraft to take part in a flyover of more than 30 international aircraft to drop over 200 paratroopers over the original 1944 drop zones in Normandy commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The event honored the citizen soldiers of the War, whose bravery led the Allies to the liberation of France, and then to an end of the devastating War in Europe. The Squadron’s education program takes the compelling story of the citizen soldier to audiences at airshows and events off the flight line to honor these brave Americans and ensure their memory and significance is appreciated for generations to come. The group’s efforts are funded through the generous tax-deductible contribution of their supporters. Learn more at DDaySquadron.org.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles