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A Historic Flight for D-Day 70th anniversary

A North American P-51D Mustang from Paul Allen
A North American P-51D Mustang from Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Historic Flight Foundation will commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied Forces invaded Normandy, by putting veteran aircraft in the sky and over western Washington on Friday.

Leading the formation, which first departs Mukilteo at 9 a.m., will be a P-51 Mustang that flew four sorties over the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

"You get a difference of opinion, you know, but most will acknowledge the importance the P-51 played in winning the war, perhaps the best fighter in World War II," said John Sessions, the founder of the Historic Flight Foundation who also will pilot the lead plane during Friday's event.

Sessions's father is a WWII veteran and his mother was his last nurse during the war, so he was raised on that history. He said vintage aircraft are attractive for youth and help tell the story of the country's "greatest generation."

The formation will fly all over the western Washington area, departing Paine Field at noon Friday for Lake Forest Park, Woodinville, Seattle, Bellevue, Issaquah, New Castle and others.

Sessions said the foundation reached out to various western Washington city governments and chambers of commerce and came up with about 40 responses in support of the flight.

Along with the Historic Flight Foundation, the event is being made possible through cooperation with the Heritage Flight Museum of Skagit County, Flying Heritage Collection of Paine Field and Mark Peterson of Boise.

When in formation, the planes will form a "V" to represent victory, and will leave only eight feet between them from wingtip to wingtip.

"It's similar to the challenge that was confronted in World War II," he said of reaching more than 30 targets in one day, but Friday's sorties are purely educational. "This is simply an act to get people to reflect on what happened 70 years ago."

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