Dallas–The Commemorative Air Force hosted Wings Over Dallas, its annual World War II airshow, on October 29-31 at Dallas Executive Airport.
“We have an amazing living history encampment area,” Leah Block, the vice president of marketing for the Commemorative Air Force, said. “We’ve got about 100 re-enactors that have built an airfield essentially. They have tents and vehicles. We have about 45 different vintage military vehicles. We have tanks and trucks and jeeps and even bicycles that are out there and lots of people dressed in uniform that are here to talk about them and talk about what life was like in the military encampments in World War II.
“We actually just finished building an education hangar on the other side of the airport, which we came to Dallas in order to do. It’s an education hangar which will have after school programs, summer camps. It’ll have exhibits for people to see, and that’ll be opening on November 12.”
“What these aircraft represent is so much more than just an airplane,“ Block said.
“[World War II] was an air power war. The aircraft represent not only the freedom that we fought for during that time, but they also represent technology that was developed rapidly because we needed that engineering ingenuity. The arsenal of democracy was all the people that were building the aircraft and manufacturing the aircraft. So it’s much more than airplanes to us. They’re really iconic.
“Aviation technology changed dramatically from the beginning of the war to the end of the war. The early aircraft were, you know, biplane aircraft, we have some of them here. They ended up using them as trainers for World War II, they weren’t combat aircraft in World War II, but then towards the end of the war, you have aircraft like the B-29, we also have one of those here. And that had a pressurized cabin, and had what’s called the Norden bombsight, which was a rudimentary computer. At the time, there were no computers. So the technology that was created during this time is pretty amazing.”
The Commemorative Air Force started in 1957 with just one aircraft, and now they boast a fleet of 176.
“We have some of the rarest aircraft,” Block said. “Some of them, only one or two of their kind are still flying, and when they were manufactured, there were thousands of them. To think that there’s only one or two left flying is pretty amazing.
“Along with preserving the aircraft, we’ve also spent decades preserving the stories of the people who built them and flew them. So many veterans we’ve had attending shows like this for decades now. And we hear their story and they tell us about what it was to fly these aircraft and what their experience was, and we also talk to people who maintain the aircraft and who built the aircraft. Each person comes with such a rich history.”