October 30th, Fresville, Normandy, FRANCE..
For the 70th commemoration of the renowned D-day Invasion, which is to take place in June 2014, a group of parachutists called the Round Canopy Parachuting Team, has set its goals at assembling as many as possible still flying Douglas C-47 Dakota’s at the airport of Cherbourg, Maupertus. To never forget!
The Round Canopy Parachuting Team is an international association which was founded in 2009 and has 250 members of 14 different nationalities. The team is specialized in making jumps with military style round parachutes, like the ones used during World War 2. The team organizes courses and are welcome guests in the airshow circuit and every year in June and September they all set out to make commemorative jumps in Normandy and in The Netherlands to remember the Allied airborne landings and the sacrifices all those young men made for the liberation of Europe. And without exception these jumps are made from a vintage restored Douglas C-47 Dakota. For the 70th commemoration of the D-day invasion the association has set out on an ambitious project; to organize a large and unforgettable event from the 3rd to the 8th of June next year and to bring as many C-47’s as possible over to Normandy for an airshow and to have as many parachutist as possible jump over the historic drop zones.
Still 15 Dakota’s in Europe
“During the event and for the very first time since 1944 Dakota’s will fill Normandy skies and will drop parachutists in large numbers”. Thus explains Hubert Achten, president of the RCPT. “In Europe there are about 15 Dakota’s still flying and for these commemorative events we want to bring all of these together. For the very last time the public has the chance to admire these beautiful machines on the ground and where they belong; in the air. This 70th commemoration is important for a lot of reasons. One of them is that the number of veterans in attendance every year is dwindling fast. But the news is encouraging. So far we have had positive news from about 12 aircraft owners. We have contacted aircraft manufacturer Boeing, who has bought the original manufacturing company Douglas, and informed them of our plans. We are hoping for their support.” The airshow to be held at Maupertus Airport is the heart of the event. Work is in progress to make it very attractive for the public to come and watch and no doubt lots of people will. “We are aiming for a number of jumps and a number of flights. We have not yet decided on the final location of the drop zones and we envision to jump at La Fiere, but Carentan, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Azeville Battery and a number of other locations are on our list. It all depends on obtaining the necessary authorization”.
A 500.000 Euro budget
The cost of this mega project are quite steep and the organisation counts with a 500.000 Euro budget. “On our own we will never be able to raise that kind of money” , so Hubert Achten reasons. “Therefore we appeal to the generosity of the general public, by having made it a crowd funding project”, with it’s own website. Everyone can donate a sum of money to suit with their own budget. For all our supporting friends, we will organise a draw, during which 50 of them can win a free scenic flight on one of our Dakota’s”.
A request for financial support has been forwarded to the Conseil Général de la Mache (Regional Normandy Government) and the initiators of the project are looking for other ways to raise the money. “We know very well that the success of our project depends on the finances, but with such a noble cause in mind and with everyone joining in, I am convinced we will succeed. We have raised a part of the money already, but our final goal is still a long way off…”
Practical info: for more information or for donations, please visit www.daksovernormandy.com