World War II Stearman instructor Norman Cockman and pilot Roy Kinsey before the first Veterans Flight in November 2010.
2021 Pensacola Beach Air Show
Pearl Harbor Survivors Frank Emond, USN, and Bill Braddock, USMC, before Veterans Flight 2018.
Air Group 16 Officers Aboard USS Lexington - South Pacific 1944
TBF Pilot Harry Minarik Is Far Right In The Front Row
You Can Read Harry Minarik's Story In The Veterans' Stories Section
Countdown #1 – 21 August 2020
Only 321 days until Friday, 9 July 2021’s first flights
The Heritage Project
Unfortunately, the increase of COVID-19 cases forced cancellation of the Pensacola Beach Blue Angels Air Show and Veterans Flight 2020. We were disappointed as 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of America's and its allies victory in World War II and Veterans Flight was to open the air show with a formation of six Stearmans with a 100+ years old veteran in the front cockpit of each airplane.
We appreciate the many emails we received that supported the difficult decision. We and the Santa Rosa Island Authority are working to make sure Veterans Flight and the 2021 Pensacola Beach Air Show take place as scheduled 9 & 10 July 2021.
Good ideas often arise from disappointments and this year is no exception. Rather than waiting until next July's air show, Veterans Flight and Hellcat Productions are launching The Heritage Project. Most World War II veterans are in their late 90's, so we have limited time to honor and thank these national treasures whose courage and sacrifices made it possible for us to live in this great county.
We also recognize the importance of educating our fellow Americans how these veterans, who are universally regarded as America's "Greatest Generation," gave up the best years of their youth to serve their country and defeat Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. Today's Americans of all ages owe these veterans a debt that can never be repaid.
There are only two Stearmans in the Pensacola area, so The Heritage Project will not be a quick or easy process. The need to continue "Social Distancing" means we cannot have the large gatherings of veterans and their families, sponsors, volunteers and Stearman pilots at Pensacola Aviation Center that we have had for past Veterans Flights.
Veterans on this year's flight schedule will be scheduled for flights and interviews on specific dates and times. Prior to their flights we will ask the veterans to provide background information for interviews that will be recorded by Hellcat Productions professional videographers. After the videos are edited, we will post them on the Veterans Flight website.
We are excited that veteran TV professional Jeff Weeks has volunteered to interview the veterans featured in The Heritage Project. Jeff has been behind a microphone or in front of a television camera since he was 15 years old and began his broadcasting career while a junior in high school.
Jeff has been a disc jockey, talk show host, television weather anchor, television and radio news reporter and anchor. In addition he has voiced many commercials and videos. He is also an accomplished speaker and emcee.
He has interviewed personalities from all walks of life, business, politics, science, arts, entertainment, literature and sports and says, "There is nothing in broadcasting I enjoy more than a long form one-on-one interview. I am naturally curious, and I love a good story."
Jeff hosts "Conversations With Jeff Weeks," a weekly program on Pensacola State College's Public Broadcasting station WSRE-TV, which in July 2015 featured "Veterans Flight 2015 - The Final Mission."
In addition to being a media star, Jeff also enjoys flying -- he is a private pilot -- working out, skiing and traveling.
Hellcat Productions https://www.hellcat.productions/
* * *
If you know World War II aviators, email their contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can invite them to participate in the Heritage Project and fly with us next July
Veterans Flight - Pensacola Beach Air Show
Veterans Flight pilots John Laughter (515), Carey Hardin (470), Vic Syracuse (719) and Sam Hardin (469) over Pensacola Beach during Veterans Flight 2018
Veterans, pilots, family members, volunteers and supporters gather at Pensacola Aviation Center before the flights.
Stearmans on the flight line waiting patiently
for the first flight of veterans.
World War II veterans Jerry Yellin (Army Air Corps), Cass Phillips (Navy) and Jay Carraway (Navy) during Veterans Flight 2016.
Veterans Flight pilot Phil Webb (AAC #42) leads the Stearmans out for takeoff on runway 35 at Pensacola International Airport.