After staying half a night at a hotel in Breda we, Bart and I got up very early and took the bus for a 4-day trip to Normandy with 4Aviation.
I mostly looked forward to the first day. Being present in Normandy at the para drop, the place where 75 years earlier the para's dropped out of Dakota's at the start of D-Day. Now they would do it again, out of the same old aircraft, with the same round parachutes!
We arrived in Sannerville, 'drop zone K'.
First we witnessed a para drop out of a Dakota and a few modern military transport aircraft. A Spitfire was also present.
After this drop we decided to go to the other side of the dropzone. We wanted to have other angles for our shots.
Then the formation Dakota's arrived from England to do the main drop. We hoped that all 30 Dakota's would drop para's, but it would turn out that there were only 6 that had para's on board. The others we saw fly by at a distance. We would get those later on the trip anyway.
Goosebumps would not describe the feeling of the drop. It was epic to imagine how it must have been 75 years ago, whilst being at the same location with the same planes, but 75 years later.
Today the official commemoration of D-Day was held. A lot of officials from all over the world were visiting Normandy, making it impossible for regular people like us to get close to anything. So, we did a 'Tour de Normandie' at various locations.
First we went to Aérodrome Charles Lindbergh. An Normandy Airfield Camp was created here, just like 75 years ago. Complete with vehicles, all sorts of weapons, bikes, vehicles, well... you name it, it was there.
Only one Mustang came in, so not many movements.
The second stop was at the airfield of Cherbourg. From here a few USAF C-130's flew to drop para's at various locations.
We had the shortest basevisit ever here, being allowed to turn the bus around on the base, which took about 45 seconds.
From Cherbourg we drove to Saint-Mère-Eglise, the place where John Steele managed to get stuck at the church tower.
We visit the Airborne Museum, there was a military camp and a few para's dropped out of a chopper on the town square (and missing the tower).
Today we visited airfield Caen-Carpiquet for the show 'Daks over Normandy'.
We knew the MV-22's of the US president where also there at the local Aero club. A nice bonus for this trip!
Thanks to the skills of our bus driver we managed to get really close.
At the 'Daks over Normandy' the 30-ish Dakota's would fly, we would walk between them to take pictures, talk to the crews... None of this happened due to the poor organisation and the weather. It could be some much more... but it was not.
On the bright side, some US planes came in and I never saw so many 'Daks' together.
After the disapointment of yesterday, we did not expect much of the L-Birds meeting. But it turned out great!
It was a small, but well organised event. Made possible by a lovely lady who fixed everything on the spot. Even a flyby of the Patrouille France was arranged.
All in all it was a great, relaxed day.
After 4 days, we stayed another evening in a hotel before returning home.
A bit mixed feelings about the trip. It was very cool to be in Normandy exactly 75 years later and we had a lot of fun. But the letdown of the Daks over Normandy organisation was disappointing.
Thanks to 4Aviation and the people who I was with for this trip.