Oxford, Connecticut, May 23, 2024 – The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) embarked upon the journey to fly the C-47 That’s All, Brother and the Navy Version of the C-47, an R4D-6 named Ready 4 Duty, to Europe this summer as part of the D-Day Squadron’s 2024 Legacy Tour.  For the CAF aircraft, the plan was to start in Texas, travel up the North American East Coast, then cross the North Atlantic, into the U.K., France, and Germany before returning home in mid-June.  Flying a pair of 80-year-old aircraft thousands of miles through all types of weather and over inhospitable terrain requires very experienced pilots and a dedicated and meticulous cadre of maintainers.   The enormity of an undertaking like this takes months of work and lots of financial support, knowing that once in Europe, the usual resources and supplies would not be as easy to come by.

Both groups toiled for months in their planning to accomplish such a mission safely. For Ready 4 Duty, a new #1 engine was obtained and installed, and the #2 engine, a young 250-hour engine, passed inspection.  Before the trip started, pilots flew for proficiency, local airshows were attended, and the aircraft flew in excellent working order.

Both aircraft arrived in Oxford, Connecticut, for the D-Day Squadron Legacy Tour kickoff, which included group formation training exercises with other participating C-47s. On May 18, the contingent of C-47s was preparing to launch with a dramatic formation flight down the Hudson River in New York City.   While running the engines, a flight crew member detected the slightest sound of a “pop” in R4D’s #2 engine.

The Ready 4 Duty crew made the difficult but judicious decision to remain in Oxford to investigate the issue – a mysterious sound from the exhaust system.  The other aircraft went on to the next leg of the trip to Presque Isle, Maine.

After careful and methodical diagnostic work and consultation with pilots, mechanics, engine shops, and other aviation professionals, it was unanimously decided that the #2 engine was not fit for the flight over the North Atlantic.   Chris Volpe, DFW Wing Leader shared “Our crew has worked so hard preparing for this trip, and while we’re disappointed with the setback, we made the call to remain in Connecticut to resolve any maintenance issues before continuing.  The safe operation of our aircraft is always our top priority.”

Harkening back to the lessons of the Greatest Generation, the crew adopted the spirit of resilience, determination, and cooperation.   They set about investigating all possible avenues to continue the mission, and a great opportunity came through. The Tunison Foundation generously offered their spare engine to Ready 4 Duty.

CAF President/ CEO Hank Coates said, “I’m proud of our CAF members, staff, and crew, who immediately made the right choice not to fly. We are eager to get Ready 4 Duty back on track, but only if we can accomplish the mission safely.”

The DFW Wing maintenance team, a determined group of CAF volunteers, is now working alongside professional mechanics in Oxford. Together, they are diligently installing the new engine. As part of the engine change process, the R4D will need to fly for at least 25 hours to test and prove the engine’s reliability.  Once completed, the goal is to join up with the other C-47s in Europe.

“Our forefathers would be proud of us,” said Eric Zipkin, President, Tunison Foundation and CAF Chief of Staff.  “We promised them we would never forget their dedication, cooperation, and most importantly, sacrifices.  Everything about the challenges of this situation proves our commitment to their incredible legacy.”

If you’d like to show your support for the DFW Wing and the Ready 4 Duty crew, click the link below to donate.

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