If all goes according to plan this October, three precious WWII warbirds will head out to California, where they will be loaded aboard a USAF cargo plane and flown out to Hawaii. The TBM Avenger, FM-2 Wildcat and an F4U-4 Corsair are set to take part in the Kaneohe Air Show between October 16th and 18th. This will in part be to celebrate the 70th anniversary of VJ-Day, and the three veteran combat aircraft will fly over the battle-scarred hull of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, where the war in the Pacific began, and over the USS Missouri moored close by. The decks of the USS Missouri were of course the setting for the signing ceremony marking Japan’s unconditional surrender on September 2nd, 1945.
On that day, seventy years ago, a vast armada of more than a thousand Allied aircraft flew over the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay, in part as a symbol of Allied might. Amongst those aircraft was TBM-3E Bu.85632… the very aircraft that will be flying over Pearl Harbor this October! Bu.85632 served aboard USS Vella Gulf (CVE 111) during the latter stages of WWII.
As Brad Deckert, her owner, told WarbirdsNews in a recent conversation, “We have the extremely rare opportunity here to not only honor the veterans and the 70th year anniversary of VJDay but to relive a tiny bit of history with a homecoming of sorts for our TBM once based at Barbers Point, Hawaii.”
Jim Tobul who will be flying his Corsair then remarked that, “I am excited and honored to be a part of this event. I couldn’t imagine anything better than flying the Corsair over the Hawaiian Islands”. Greg Shelton, who will be flying the Wildcat, agreed saying “I am humbled an honored to have been invited to be a part of this historic event and to give back to the Veterans who sacrificed for our nation. I am thrilled to bring my Wildcat to perform for the people of Hawaii”.
But none of these well-laid plans to put on a rare warbird show for Hawaii and their resident WWII veterans will come to pass unless we can give them a handas the team has hit a last minute snag. A key sponsor has had to withdraw from the project, leaving the effort short about $33,000 if it is to take place. The flight out to Hawaii is already covered by the USAF as a fabulous training mission for its crews, but the aircraft still need to get to California to board the C-5 Galaxy for Hawaii, and therein lies the rub. There are enormous expenses in fueling, maintaining and insuring these vintage warbirds. When adding up these costs, they effectively mean that a single engine, high performance warbird costs two to three thousand dollars an hour to fly, so you can imagine how quickly the price escalates when you have to fly that warbird across the continent…
So the three men have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the shortfall in capital. Anyone interested in contributing should click HERE to learn more. And as the organizers said, “We are less than two months out and desperate!” Please do note that donations to this fund are tax deductible, and that . anyone giving $500.00 or more will receive a numbered lithograph (500 only) of the Pearl Harbor flyover autographed by the pilots.
We must also remember that there are virtually no flying WWII aircraft in Hawaii… for obvious reasons… so it seems that with such a golden opportunity to give a little to those veterans of the Greatest Generation living in that state one last chance to witness the aircraft of their youth in the air again, it would be a pity if we failed to help out. For us… the generations whom owe these men and women so much… it is perhaps our last chance to say thank you!