Atlanta’s Warhawk Weekend

pdk p40 show 2016 065

Photos by Gerhard Frenz Photography

 The Commemorative Air Force’s Dixie Wing offered its’ Atlanta Warbird Weekend over the last weekend in September, 2016. Splashed through their advertisements, the Wing was quite specific that the “Atlanta Warbird Weekend is NOT an air show. It is a warbird display, aircraft rides, and history education event.” Sure, warbirds alighted from time to time, but emphasis was on ground displays.

This year, a special salute to the 75th anniversary of the American Volunteer Group (AVG – nicknamed the Flying Tigers) brought five Curtiss P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk World War II fighter planes together on the grounds of the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. Several original members of the AVG were even present at the event too. The AVG operated in the China/Burma/India (CBI) Theatre of the war, the same geographical area where the famous “Hump”, with its tall Himalayan mountain peaks made resupply operations both difficult and costly. Discussions of operations over the Hump were also part of this year’s weekend. Examples of the Curtiss C-46 and Douglas C-47 transports that carried critical supplies intra-Theatre were present for the weekend too.

Here’s some information that the CAF Dixie Wing’s web site offered ahead of the weekend: “The Atlanta Warbird Weekend (AWW) is an annual event dedicated to the remembrance and celebration of the men, women and machines of The Greatest Generation. In metro Atlanta, there are significant historical resources and AWW is the catalyst to bring together the organizations, aircraft and people that keep this history alive and engage families and businesses that want to keep this spirit alive.

Our goal is to elevate awareness of historical organizations in Metro Atlanta, raise funds to “Keep ‘em Flying”, promote the sponsors and the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport - who make the event possible.

The Commemorative Air Force’s mission as a 501c3 non-profit organization is to restore and fly World War II aircraft in tribute to America’s veterans. The Dixie Wing, based in Peachtree City, GA, is the local chapter of the CAF. Our members come from all walks of life but have the common goal to keep history alive. …Along with air shows, rides days, events and festivals, we work with area schools, civic organizations and youth groups to teach the inspiring history of the Second World War and honoring The Greatest Generation. All local members are volunteers and receive no pay for flying, maintaining and restoring these rare, historic aircraft.”

The DeKalb-Peachtree Airport sits on part of what was once a World War I Army facility, known as Camp Gordon. After that conflict, the Army moved on and sold the land to private owners. Part of the land was sought for an airport, and in 1935, the DeKalb County purchased 300 acres for that purpose. By 1940, and with the help of a WPA Project, the first dirt runway became operational. Just prior to the start of the U.S.’s involvement in World War II, the federal government approved the construction of Naval Air Station Atlanta. The Navy operated the airport through 1959, when it was turned over to DeKalb County (again). Today it has become the second busiest airport in the state, after Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport.

Here are some photographic details of the five P-40s, and a few of some other planes on display:

Texas Flying Legends Museum P-40K Aleutian Tiger

Texas Flying Legends Museum P-40E Texas Warhawk

Fagen Fighters WWII Museum P-40E Desert Shark

American Airpower Museum’s P-40M “The Jacky C II”

 

Commemorative Air Force’s P-40N “Flying Tiger Tex Hill”

Other activities at the Atlanta Warbird Weekend, besides the static display of the P-40s, transports, and other warbirds, included opportunities for DC-3 and warbird rides, a dinner program with AVG veterans, and living history displays. Presentations on flying the Hump, the founding of the AVG, and more about the various aircraft on display occurred throughout each day. Finally, the five P-40s did fly once together each day, which was a highlight for many. A photography workshop and special sessions were offered too. At the time of this writing, next year’s program hasn’t been announced yet. 2014, the first Weekend, was full of warbird flying activity. 2015’s event was “A Gathering of Mustangs”, and this year’s event focused on the AVG and CBI. You can watch for the 2017 Atlanta Warbird Weekend’s theme at the CAF Dixie Wing’s homepage: http://atlantawarbirdweekend.com

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