Heritage Flight Training Course brings over 80 years of air power to Davis-Monthan AFB

Feb 13, 2020

Over 80 years of air power is getting ready to hit the skies over Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

From February 26 to March 1, historic warbirds from the WWII, Korean and Vietnam war eras will team up with the most advanced fighters in America’s arsenal for the annual Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course. During the event, civilian warbird pilots and current Air Force demonstration pilots will train together ahead of the 2020 air show season.

This year, six P-51 Mustangs will touch down in Tucson including fan favorites Bum Steer, Double Trouble Two, Wee Willy II, Silver, Bald Eagle and Frenesi.

Bald Eagle, a P-51D owned by Heritage Flight pilot Jim Beasley, Jr., takes its design from a member of the 8th Air Force’s 361st Fighter Group. Wearing the legendary “invasion stripes” that marked Allied planes on D-Day, the original Bald Eagle was flown by Lt. Robert Eckfeldt who is credited with destroying eight enemy aircraft before completing his tour.

Warbird Stories: P-51 Mustang Bald Eagle pays homage to D-Day

The original Frenesi also carries the distinctive black and white stripes of the Normandy invasion.

The P-51 was flown by Brig. Gen. Thomas Lloyd Hayes, Jr. who earned a Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart and more than a dozen other awards and commendations during his storied career. During WWII, Hayes was credited with 8.5 aerial victories and 2 ground victories in both the Pacific and European theaters.

This year, the Mustangs will be accompanied by the F-86 Sabres known as Jolley Roger and Heller Bust, the P-47 Thunderbolt Snafu, and a P-40 Warhawk.

The Warhawk, owned by the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas, is based on the P-40 flown by Maj. Gen. Charles R. Bond Jr. of the legendary Flying Tigers. The rows of Japanese flags below the cockpit represent the more than nine enemy aircraft shot down by Bond during WWII.

Warbird Stories: The P-40 Warhawk of Maj. Gen. Charles Bond Jr.

The warbird squadron will be joined at Davis-Monthan by the A-10, F-16, F-22 and F-35 demo teams. While Cody “ShiV” Wilton and Garret “Toro” Schmitz will once again be piloting the Warthog and Viper, the F-22 and F-35 teams will be introducing new pilots in 2020.

While aircraft can be seen operating in the area throughout the week, the Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course is not an air show and is not open to the public. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the action by following Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation and the Air Force demonstration teams on Facebook and Instagram.