GENESEO — Imagine embarking on a journey away from everything you have ever known with a high chance you won’t come back.
Normandy holds a lot of ghosts on its shores from the young men who fought and died there on June 6, 1944.
Among the brave who were sent to invade the shores of Normandy on what is historically known as D-Day were 28 paratroopers on Whiskey 7. She flew into the battle cry, and led others as she stayed on the mission in the second wave.
Whiskey 7 was not just a plane in World War II. This historic veteran of aviation was a safe passage into the invasion with three major battles under her wings. She has the scars to prove it.
It was nearly 75 years ago that Whiskey 7 held young soldiers as they fought bravely for their country. Now this plane spends its days giving rides, and educating people on the importance of a war that changed the world.
On July 12 there was a media ride offered to various local journalists of newspapers, television, radio, and social media. Among the lucky given a flight of a lifetime was Genesee Country Express.
For me being on the Whiskey 7 was not about taking a ride on a World War II plane, but about honoring my grandfather, Donald Willis. He was a radio operator in World War II, and he always wanted to be in the US Air Force. Unfortunately, my grandpa never got to fly in the war. I went up in this 1940s plane to fulfill my grandpa’s wish of being a part of the soaring heroes.
As I sat in the same seats those young soldiers sat in, and made our way up into the sky I could feel the spirits of the paratroopers onboard.
We were able to move around Whiskey 7 once airborne, and take as many photos as our hearts desired.
Seeing the world through the eyes of a World War II veteran is something you will never forget. The Rochester, Conesus, and Letchworth areas all looked and felt different from the sky.
Five members of the National Warplane Museum were onboard with us as we flew for about an hour.
Upon landing we had a chance to talk to the pilots who gave us a great experience.
Mike Piampiano, National Warplane Museum pilot, said he gets goosebumps every time he flies Whiskey 7.
“You get to experience some real flying here,” he said. “I get goosebumps every time I fly her because of the age, history, and what Whiskey 7 has been through in its lifetime. Whiskey 7 has been all over the world.”
Austin Wadsworth, National Warplane Museum president and co-pilot, said that a lot of time and money has gone into keeping Whiskey 7.
“Whiskey 7 is a visible sign of what we all feel,” he said. “People are able to come and get close to our planes, and talk with our pilots. We started the air show here, because at other air shows people were kept away from the planes.
:We wanted to do it here, so people could get close to the planes, and the children could be a part of it. It is important to get the children interested in these planes.”
Wadsworth said that this year’s Geneseo Air Show was the best they ever had on record, and there were about 80 planes.
If you would like to have this experience of a lifetime on Whiskey 7 visit the National Warplane Museum for ride dates, times, and prices https://nationalwarplanemuseum.com