Look to the skies for a few pieces of history this weekend.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Tri-State Warbird Museum, located in Bativa, Ohio, will conduct a flyover for Tech’s Military Appreciation game Saturday, Sept. 21.
David O’Maley, founder of the Warbird Museum, said, “The tradition of the Warbird Museum conducting flyovers at Virginia Tech started when Stan Cohen (a 1949 Tech alumn) joined the advisory board and requested to start a flyover tradition at Virginia Tech, featuring World War II era planes--keeping with the museum's mission to educate the next generation on American History.”
Cohen will be covering the cost of fuel for both planes himself.
As in previous years, the flyovers will occur at the conclusion of the National Anthem and during the military appreciation performance at half time. Featured aircraft will include a historic World War II-era Grumman TBM-3 Avenger, as well as two North American AT-6 Texan Advanced Trainers.
According to Cohen, “The TBM-3 was chosen as one of the planes to perform the flyover due to its historical significance to Virginia Tech, as well as the Corps of Cadets.”
Historical records indicate that Captain Ben Tate, class of 1942 Corps alumn, flew this model plane from the USS Belleau Wood in World War II. With the assistance of two other aircraft, the Japanese Aircraft Carrier Hiyo was sunk at the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Captain Tate was awarded the Navy Cross for this, the second highest award for valor.
The AT-6 is a single-engine advanced trainer--the first aircraft flown by World War II cadets that had retractable landing gear and a controllable pitch propeller.
“The AT-6 is being flown as a tribute to 2nd Lieutenant Robert Femoyer, a Class of 1944 graduate who earned the Medal of Honor for refusing morphine after being shot by enemy aircraft fire on a bombing mission in Germany,” Cohen said.
Femoyer refused morphine in order to navigate his crew safely back to England. Before transitioning to navigating B-17’s, 2nd Lieutenant Femoyer trained in an AT-6.
Once the aircraft arrive from Bativa around 11:30 a.m., both will be on display at the Virginia Tech/Montgomery Regional Airport on 1601 Research Center Dr. The flight crews will be answering questions until 4:30 p.m. The crew and aircraft will be available again Saturday from 9 a.m. until one hour prior to kickoff, as well as after the game's flyovers.
In addition to the flyovers for the game, a third flyover will take place for the Corps of Cadets Formal Retreat ceremony, honoring the returning alumni, at 4:45 p.m. The retreat this year will be held on the Drillfield in front of the April 16 Memorial. The Color Guard will lower the flag, the corps cannon will be fired and the regimental band will play the National Anthem. All are welcome to observe the ceremony.