Memorial – Dakotas to Fly Over Normandy
On June 2014 it will be exactly 70 years since the largest military invasion in history took place. On D-Day, 6th of June 1944, in almost 7,000 ships, the Allied armies transported over 160,000 young men to the beaches of Normandy in France, to liberate Europe from the Nazis.
This invasion was preceded by the landing of 13,000 paratroopers behind enemy lines. They jumped from the famous Douglas C-47 Dakota; the workhorse of the Allied troops. On the ground they raised havoc and suffered great losses, but they freed the path for landings from the sea.
For the 70th commemoration of this renowned D-Day invasion which will take place in June 2014, a group of parachutists — the Round Canopy Parachuting Team — has set its sights on assembling as many as possible of the still-airworthy Douglas C-47 Dakota’s at the Cherbourg, Maupertus airport so as To Never Forget!
The Round Canopy Parachuting Team (RCPT) is an international association founded in 2009 and includes 250 members from 14 different nationalities. The team specialises in making jumps with military-style round parachutes, like the ones used during World War ll. The team organises courses and are welcome guests on the airshow circuit. Each year in June and September they set out to make commemorative jumps in Normandy and in the Netherlands in remembrance of the Allied airborne landings and the sacrifices all those young men made for the liberation of Europe. Without exception these jumps are made from a vintage restored Douglas C-47 Dakota.
For the 70th commemoration of the D-day invasion the association has embarked on an ambitious project; to organize a large and unforgettable event between June 3 – 8 2014, to bring as many C-47’s as possible over to Normandy for an airshow and to have as many parachutists as possible jump over the historic drop zones.
Still 15 Dakota’s in Europe
“During the event and for the very first time since 1944 Dakota’s will fill Normandy skies and will drop parachutists in large numbers”, says Hubert Achten, president of the RCPT. “In Europe there are about 15 Dakota’s still flying and for these commemorative events we want to bring all of them together. For the very last time the public has the chance to admire these beautiful machines on the ground and in the air where they belong.
This 70th commemoration is important for a lot of reasons. One of them is that the number of veterans in attendance every year is dwindling fast. But the news is encouraging. So far we have had positive reactions from about 12 aircraft owners. We have contacted the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which acquired Douglas, the original Dakota manufacturing company, and informed them of our plans. We are hoping for their support.”
The airshow to be staged at Maupertus Airport is at the heart of the event. Work is in progress to make it very attractive for the public to attend and the organisers are confident that many will.
“We are aiming for a number of jumps and a number of flights. We have not yet decided on the final location of the drop zones and we envision to jump at La Fiere, but Carentan, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Azeville Battery and a number of other locations are on our list. It all depends on obtaining the necessary authorisation”, said Mr Achten.
A 500,000 Euro budget
The cost of this mega project are steep and the organisation has a preliminary 500,000 Euro budget target. “On our own we will never be able to raise that kind of money” , Mr Achten said. “Therefore we appeal to the generosity of the general public, by having made it a crowd funding project”, with it’s own website. Everyone can donate a sum of money to suit with their own budget. For all our supporting friends, we will organise a draw, during which 50 of them can win a free scenic flight on one of our Dakota’s”.
A request for financial support has been forwarded to the Conseil Général de la Manche (Regional Normandy Government) and the initiators of the project are looking for other ways to raise the money. “We know very well that the success of our project depends on the finances, but with such a noble cause in mind and with everyone joining in, I am convinced we will succeed. We have raised a part of the money already, but our final goal is still a long way off…”, he added
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