The Arsenal of Democracy organized a flyover in the skies of Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The MOAA-supported event was to feature multiple flying formations over the National Mall, with each formation honoring a prominent battle during the war.
Unfortunately, the pilots never got the weather they needed to embark on their journey. But MOAA spoke to several of them as they prepared for the flight, catching a glimpse into what it takes to fly a vintage plane and bring history to life through the maintenance of these special aircraft.
While the planes may appear in the sky as they did 75 years ago, their mechanics are updated to meet all modern-day Federal Aviation Administration standards and are outfitted with GPS navigation systems. Keeping these planes in flying condition is not only a labor of love but a costly endeavor, requiring hours of work and thousands of dollars. Pilots must become specialized in working from a cockpit that looks different than any you'd find in a 21st-century aircraft.
[LEARN MORE: MOAA Presents Wings of World War II]
To many enthusiasts, this is a small price to pay in order to give others a sense of the sacrifices made during the war and pay tribute to the pilots that came before them.
Vintage plane pilots come from many backgrounds, some civilian, some military, but all are drawn to the history, novelty, and excitement of listening to the satisfying hum of a radial engine, rebuilding downed aircraft of the past, and showing off their thoughtfully painted wings to aficionados from thousands of feet above the ground.