The skies over Eastbourne will witness a remarkable event on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 5.
Thirty five Douglas DC-3s and C-47s (known to the US Air Force as Skytrains and to the RAF as the Dakota) will be flying from the IWM Museum at Duxford, near Cambridge, and setting course for Caen-Carpiquet Airport in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, fought on June 6 1944.
These legendary aircraft will be escorted by a number of Second World War Allied fighter planes, the Spitfire, Hurricane and Mustang.
On their way they will fly over Sussex from just before 2.40pm and are scheduled to pass over Eastbourne and Beachy Head at 2.50pm.
Members of the local Royal British Legion will be joined by war veterans at Beachy Head to witness the display. They will be selling special D-Day commemoration badges from around 1pm.
Alan Young of the Eastbourne branch of the Royal British Legion said, “We are really looking forward to it.
“I think it’s going to give recognition of the amount of bombing Eastbourne took. If the [enemy aircraft] had any left they dropped them on Eastbourne on their route back.
“We are trying to give some mark of respect for the fallen. Hopefully it will all work out and it will be a nice, sunny day. There’ll be a lot of people on Beachy Head.”
The weather forecast on the day is expected to have sunny intervals changing to cloudy by midday, with highs of 16 degrees – according to the Met Office.
Joanne Jones of Daks over Normandy said, “This is bringing together the largest gathering of C-47s and DC-3s since WWII to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It’s taken three years of planning and will probably be the last chance to see an epic event such as this.
“While it’s a great opportunity to see these planes in action once again, what we’re doing this for is, of course, the veterans. They gave their lives and so much more to give us back our freedom in 1944. I think we owe them our eternal gratitude.”
The precise route the aircraft will take will be from Duxford to Colchester, Southend, Maidstone, Eastbourne, Beachy Head to France, from between 1,000-1,500ft in the air.
The Dak Normandy flight will also be carrying a contingent of 300 parachutists who will come down on the Drop Zone at Ranville in the same fields where British parachute and glider-borne troops of the 6th Airborne Division landed on the night and day of June 6.
The route runs from Duxford (take-off 1.40pm) and will fly over Colchester, Southend, and Maidstone. Then it takes a flight path over Sussex which will see the fleet of aircraft pass over Eastbourne before heading out across the English Channel for Normandy.
The commemorative flight is unlikely to ever be repeated on this scale. See our website for a video on the day.