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World War II Stearman instructor Norman Cockman and pilot Roy Kinsey before the first Veterans Flight in November 2010.


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Pearl Harbor Survivors Frank Emond, USN, and Bill Braddock, USMC, before Veterans Flight 2018.

2021Pensacola Beach Air Show Is A GO!

Countdown #5 – 5 April 2021

Only 97 days until Friday, 9 July 2021’s first flights

Last week the Santa Rosa Island Authority hosted the “Annual Winter Visit – Blue Angels” that takes place three months before every Pensacola Beach Air Show. This year we met via Zoom, but that was due to closure of the Three Mile Bridge rather than COVID-19. The Blue Angels made it clear they are looking forward to the Pensacola Beach Air Show and putting on another great performance.



Yesterday was the 76th anniversary of the invasion of Okinawa. The last major battle of World War II, the battle for Okinawa was the bloodiest battle of the Pacific campaign. The battle lasted three months and more than 12,000 American soldiers, sailors and Marines died. Japanese Kamikaze attacks on the invasion fleet sunk 26 ships and damaged another 168. More than 100,000 Japanese soldiers were killed.


America needed to capture Okinawa to provide a base for Operation Down Fall, the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands which was planned to begin in November with an amphibious landing on Kyushu, the southern most of the Home Islands. Estimates of American casualties for conquest of the Home Islands ranged from 1.7 to 4 million killed or wounded.


Fortunately, Japan’s unconditional surrender after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki made Operation Down Fall unnecessary. While the morality of the use of atomic weapons can be debated, I have not met a World War II veteran who served in the Pacific who did not thank President Truman for saving his life by authorizing use of the atomic bombs.

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If you know World War II aviators, email their contact information to so we can invite them to participate in the Heritage Project and fly with us next July

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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.

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Stearmans on the flight line waiting patiently

for the first flight of veterans.

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World War II veterans Jerry Yellin (Army Air Corps), Cass Phillips (Navy) and Jay Carraway (Navy) during Veterans Flight 2016.

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Veterans Flight pilot Phil Webb (AAC #42) leads the Stearmans out for takeoff on runway 35 at Pensacola International Airport.