On Bank Holiday Monday the Stars and Stripes were flying over the main gate at North Weald Airfield in anticipation of a special American Eagle Squadron flypast at lunch time.
Two Eagle Squadrons of American RAF volunteers – 71 and 121 – were based at North Weald during 1941, so it was fitting that a special formation of four aircraft representing these squadrons included the Airfield in a commemorative flypast over their former bases around the east of England on Monday 27 May.
The formation, which started out at Duxford and had the callsign ‘Eagle Squadron’, was led by a Hawker Hurricane in 601 (County of London) Squadron markings, representing the aircraft flown by the American volunteer Billy Fiske during the Battle of Britain. The second aircraft was a Spitfire I painted in Bill Dunn’s colours. He was the first US pilot to become an ace while he was based at North Weald with 71 (Eagle) Squadron in August 1941.
They were accompanied by a P-47G Thunderbolt ‘Snafu’ and P-51C Mustang ‘Princess Elizabeth,’ representing the later units of the US Eighth Air Force, which flew from airfields in Essex and East Anglia escorting the B-17 and B-24 bombers as their ‘Little Friends’.
It was a windy day and for a while we thought the flypast might be cancelled, but it worked out right in the end, and was an awe-inspiring sight! Many people came to the Airfield to see the flypast and we had a busy Market too, so there was quite an audience to witness this unique event.
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