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Corsairs Over Connecticut: A Special Anniversary Celebration, Salute To Veterans



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Corsairs Over Connecticut: A Special Anniversary Celebration, Salute To Veterans

STRATFORD — A three-day celebration this weekend will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II by honoring the men and women of The Greatest Generation – the soldiers who served as well as those who supported them on the homefront – and will center around the Corsair, the aircraft which was named the official plane of Connecticut in April.

“Veterans Salute – Corsairs Over Connecticut” will be at Igor Sikorsky Memorial Airport and will run Friday, June 3, until Sunday, June 5, from 11 am to 4 pm each day. The airport is across the street from the now-vacant Vought-Sikorsky Factory, where thousands of Corsairs rolled off assembly lines during WWII at a rate of nearly six aircraft per each eight-hour shift (during the early 1940s over 8,000 planes were produced by 13,000 employees working 24 hours a day).

The unique setting will allow organizers to host a wide range of educational events commemorating the homefront during the war, ranging from a mock assembly line and factory floor with re-enactors in period dress, daily “test flights,” speaking presentations by Corsair pilots, a WWII hospital display, vintage vehicles, and other related exhibits.

Daily events include the Corsair factory re-creation (9 am until noon), a PT-23 pre-flight and flying demonstration (at 10:30), an AT-6 pre-flight and flying demo (11:15), a War Bond rally (12:30-2 pm), a Marine Corps Pacific Hardstand re-creation (2-4 pm), a B-25 pre-flight and flying demo (2:30), and the Corsair factory test flight (3:15). An autograph booth with WWII aces and pilots will also be set up, as will a memorabilia tent.

A swing dance will run from 6:30 to 10 pm on Saturday in the Three Wing Hanger at Sikorsky Airport. Tickets are $30. The evening will include dancing to live music by The Paul King Orchestra and a buffet dinner. Set-ups will be provided; the bar is BYOB. Call 203-384-8209 for details.

On Sunday the United States Postal Service will unveil its Distinguished Marines Commemorative Stamp with a ceremony at 11 am. The four stamps honor the achievements of John Basilone, Daniel J. Daly, John A. Lejeune and Lewis B. Puller, four legendary Marines who served with bravery and distinction during the 20th Century.

In 1944-45, at 4:30 each Thursday afternoon, three Corsairs would fly over the Stratford factory at low, breath-taking altitudes, led by chief test pilot Boon Buydon, as patriotic music played on the ground. To pay homage to that custom, four Corsairs will also fly on Sunday over the entire route of the Barnum Festival Parade, which has also been dedicated to veterans.

“Corsairs Over Connecticut” is the air display portion of a citywide “Veterans Salute” event planned in Bridgeport that weekend, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII with a series of fireworks, parades, and other activities.

Admission is $7 for adults, and free for ages 12 and under.

“The Corsair is a uniquely Connecticut product, and is a uniquely popular aircraft,” says Jerry O’Neill, display coordinator for Corsairs Over Connecticut. “It was designed here and built here. In fact, it’s one of the only, maybe the only, mass-produced fixed-wing aircraft of the era that can be easily identified with just one state.

“It’s also just a pretty romantic airplane,” Mr O’Neill continued. “From the Black Sheep Squadron to the gull wing, it’s a very distinctive aircraft with a well-known history.”

By the time production ended in 1952, more than 12,500 Corsairs had rolled off assembly lines at Vought-Sikorsky, as well as Goodyear and Brewster, which both also produced variants. Only about two-dozen remain flying today, leading Mr O’Neill to say that this year’s event will certainly be one of the last of its kind.

 (“The Great Street Parade – A Salute To Veterans” will step off in Bridgeport at noon on Sunday. Call 866-867-8495 or 203-367-8495 or visit BarnumFestival.com for details about the parade.)

Proceeds of “Corsairs Over Connecticut” will benefit the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and the Connecticut Air and Space Center. All events are subject to change due to scheduling, weather and/or mechanical problems.

For additional event information contact Bob Beckwith at 203-225-8873.

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