The Final Mission at the 2016 Pensacola Beach Air Show
- Sarah Patton
The annual Pensacola Beach Air Show has always drawn a crowd at Pensacola Beach. This year’s 2016 show will also be featuring "The Final Mission,” a flight that honors some of the last WWII Veterans in our community. The flight connects our Veterans with an important piece of their history: the Boeing Stearman flight trainer. This model of plane was the primary trainer for pilots throughout WWII.
The Pensacola Beach Air Show’s Veterans Flight
began in November 2010, when a vintage World War II Navy Stearman took to the skies with World War II Veteran and former Stearman instructor pilot, Norman Cockman on an honor flight for Veterans Day. By 2014, the Veterans Flight had grown to four Stearmans making two honor flights each day.
By 2015, the Veterans Flight had grown to eleven Stearman aircraft, making two honor flights each day. The 2015 Air Show marked the largest number of Stearmans to fly over Pensacola since the end of World War II. The flight flew a total of 21 Veterans:
two were survivors from Pearl Harbor (Cass Phillips and Bill Braddock),
two were POW’s (Mel Bryant and Christ Morgan), and
one was a B-29 pilot who celebrated his 99th birthday on Saturday, July 15, 2015 (Paul McCain).
This amazing experience helps show our unwavering support for our Veterans through every generation. By supporting the Veterans Flight, you are supporting the World War II Memorial in Pensacola’s very own Veterans Park. Proceeds from the Veterans Flight fundraiser will go towards the upkeep and maintenance of the World War II Memorial. The proceeds will ensure that the memorial will stay beautiful for years to come. You can make a personal donation to the park here.
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