"That's All, Brother" makes first flight in a decade
OSHKOSH, Wis. (WLUK) -- As the engines roared and the exhaust cleared a momentous day dawned for a World War II icon.
"That's All, Brother" revved up for its first flight in more than 10 years. The C-47 aircraft led the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944.
As "That's All, Brother" took to the sky Wednesday, emotions rippled through the crowd watching and the crew aboard.
"It's just really hard to describe the feeling you have. It's a mixture of trepidation and excitement," said Keegan Chetwynd, the curator of the Commemorative Air Force.
"It's really a great thrill to be able to fly it again. It's absolutely a magical airplane," added Doug Rozendaal, the chief of staff of the Commemorative Air Force.
Rozendaal also piloted the plane Wednesday.
"There's a lot riding on this flight. For me, personally, it was an incredible thrill, because about 10 years ago I flew this airplane in here," he explained.
The Commemorative Air Force is behind the push to restore the plane. Basler Turbo Conversion's staff in Oshkosh has spent more than 22,000 hours of manpower into that restoration.
Only two months ago, crews tested the engines for the first time since then.
After its half-hour flight Wednesday, a champagne toast was called for.
"The airplane's by no means finished, but it's sound. It flies. It's back in the air for the first time in more than a decade," Chetwynd told FOX 11 News.
"The folks here at Basler Turbo did a great job. We had absolute confidence in them," Rozendaal told us.
A lot of cosmetic work still needs to be done.
"The airplane has to become gray and green. We have to apply those iconic invasion stripes," described Chetwynd.
The goal is to have the plane in mint condition to fly to Normandy for the D-Day anniversary in 2019.
"There will be a number of these airplanes going, but we've set ourselves the goal of this one being the most authentic, the most original, the most important aircraft making the trip," Chetwynd told us.
"It's our hope that the airplane will generate some excitement, enthusiasm and cause people to remember the price an entire generation of Americans paid so that we could live free," Rozendaal explained, making "That's All, Brother" a great representation of the "Greatest Generation."
Crews will do some more flying with the plane in Oshkosh over the next few weeks. Then it will be taken to its permanent home in Texas for more restoration.