By Daisy Silos
Nearly 19,000 people gathered at the Dallas Executive Airport for the second Commemorative Air Force’s Wings Over Dallas World War II Airshow the weekend of Oct. 6-8. The airshow educates people about the veterans and aircrafts that fought in WWII.
“Our show is different. Instead of just having a bunch of airplanes fly all day, our format actually has a showcase where we bring in the WWII veterans and they tell their stories of how it went on in WWII,” president and chief executive officer for Commemorative Air Force Bob Stenevik said. “We have the same airplane there with them. You can see the airplane, you can see the veteran, and you can hear the story. Then we start the airplanes, and we take off and fly them.”
One of the many veterans from WWII who talked about his experience was Alfred White. White served in the United States Navy on the USS Kitkun Bay during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which is considered to be the largest naval battle of WWII. During his time in service, White was a fueler for the torpedo bomber aircrafts designed to attack ships with aerial torpedoes. White volunteered to talk about his experience all three days of the airshow.
“They don’t cover this enough in school,” White said. “It’s important for the people to know what went on in that period of time.”
The airshow was scheduled with seven to nine showcases throughout each day with four main highlights. The highlighted showcases this year were the ONCOR American Armor and USO Show, where living history teams demonstrated military equipment used in WWII. Patriotic songs were performed by the Ladies for Liberty. The Doolittle Raid 75th Anniversary flew a simulation of a carrier take off that was shown in the film “30 Seconds Over Tokyo,” and the Commemorative Air Force 60th Anniversary Flyover showcased some famous airplanes like the B-29 Superfortress “FiFi,” which is one of two B-29’s still in existence and the only flyable B-29.
Roxane Schmidt brought her family to the airshow after enjoying it last year. The Schmidt family are airplane enthusiasts and are impressed with the show CAF puts on comparing it to the Oshkosh airshow, one of the biggest annual air shows in the country.
“I love this show,” Schmidt said. “After going to Oshkosh, for a small show it’s a wonderful show.”
Schmidt highly recommends Wings Over Dallas, because it is a great learning experience.
“I encourage people to come out and see some of these old warbirds,” Schmidt said. “Some of these are over 75-years-old and there’s also “FiFi” which is only one of two B-29’s in the world when there were hundreds of them. I encourage people and young kids to come out and enjoy the weather, see the airplanes, and curl up in them in person.”
In addition to the show itself, the event also included flights in some of the aircrafts, living history WWII re-enactors, and an education center with 20 different areas and displays for the entire family to enjoy.
“At the end of the day, it’s an education mission,” Stenevik said. “We tell the story, and we do the education with the aircrafts to get everybody’s attention. They get to see it, so they have the remembrance that’s necessary, so we don’t lose sight of what happened that gave us the freedom we have today.”