KGUN 9News


History in the air over Davis-Monthan

Training program for historic, and modern planes
Posted at 9:33 PM, Feb 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 23:46:41-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Look up this weekend. You could see the Air Force's history, and its future overhead.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is hosting the annual Heritage Flight program to train pilots to fly old and new aircraft together at air shows.
On the ramp at D-M there are fierce warplanes from 70 years ago that helped the Allies win World War Two. Nearby are the modern planes that keep the peace now. They will fly together to show how far the Air Force has come.
The blocky P-47 Thunderbolt was a good fighter, and a great ground attack plane.  It flies with the plane that inherited its mission and tough reputation: the A-10, officially called the Thunderbolt II.
Davis-Monthan hosts the Heritage Flight Program every year, to train pilots to safely fly very different planes together at air shows.
Greg Anders flew modern planes in the Air Force.  Now in retirement, he flies a P-51 Mustang, perhaps the best known fighter of World War Two.
"People would always ask, 'What's your favorite airplane?' I used to say, well, the airplane I'm flying. Nowadays it's just the Mustang. It's such a graceful aircraft.  So after World War Two many of those airplanes were just sold off for scrap metal and this is such a graceful, wonderful aircraft that a lot of people restored them and kept them flying."
As commander of the 12th Air Force, Lieutenant General Mark Kelly commands close to four hundred planes.
He usually flies the new F-35, packed with computer technology. But at the Heritage Conference he flew top technology from the 1940s---a P-51.
He says,  "It's a dream to get in the airplanes our forefathers flew in and fought in across Europe and it's just amazing to see the history and of course the great technicians that kept them up 50 years ago and the ones that keep them up today."
The planes will fly most of the weekend but you need a base pass to see them up close.
Even away from the base you should be able to look up, and look back into history.