Warbird rides available as part of National Aviation Day celebration

Published 7:54 am Monday, July 25, 2022

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As part of the First Flight Society’s celebration of National Aviation Day at Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo on August 19, the Capital Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) will provide warbird rides in its 1945 General Motors TBM Avenger torpedo bomber.

Like the 1903 Wright Flyer, the TBM Avenger has wings and an engine, but that is where the commonality ends. The Wright Flyer’s engine produced 12hp. The Avenger’s 14-cylinder radial engine produces 1,900hp. The first flight travelled 120 feet. The Avenger’s wingspan is half that distance at 54 feet and has a range of 900 miles. The Wright’s airplane had fixed wings, while the Avenger’s wings fold back against the fuselage. But there is something else in common between the Wright Flyer and the TBM Avenger: both flew with one pilot.

August 19 is National Aviation Day (NAD), which celebrates the development of aviation. The holiday was established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who issued a presidential proclamation which designated the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday to be National Aviation Day.

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There is a is a tie to the airport itself. During WWII, it was a U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) commissioned on March 3, 1943 and used for special training of Navy squadrons, including TBM Avengers, making this a form of homecoming for this TBM.

The Capital Wing is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Culpeper, Va. with over 100 members and is a Unit of the CAF. The organization’s mission is to educate, inspire and honor through flight and living history experiences.

The CAF was founded to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States and selected aircraft of other nations for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.

To combine the First Flight Society observation of National Aviation Day and the mission of the Commemorative Air Force, the Capital Wing will bring the “queen” of its fleet – a TBM-3E Avenger named “Doris Mae” – on August 19 and 20 and provide warbird rides to the public. Advance purchases of rides in the TBM can be made online at https://www.capitalwingwarbirdrides.org/s/shop.

“We can think of no better way to celebrate National Aviation Day than taking a TBM Ride, especially for a WWII Aviation Enthusiast or Military Veteran,” stated a First Flight Society press release. “You will be experiencing flight operations from this very airport similar to being there during WWII.”

For more information, visit nationalaviationday.org.