THUNDER OVER MICHIGAN 2005
The annual Thunder Over Michigan presented by the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run Airport in Belleville, MI on August 6
& 7 boomed all over the Wolverine State as more than 40, 000 Aviation buffs brave the summer heat to have an up close
and personal view of the rare gathering of the ageless historical Warbirds in this year's edition as well as to experience
a piece of Aviation History.
The weekend Air Show cooled the intense heat of the Dog Day Afternoon as the sounds and splendor of the more than 60 World
War II “Warbirds” showed the solidarity of the people and the full force of the drive for the rebuilding of the
Yankee Air Museum that was gutted by fire in October 2004 that is estimated to cost at around $55 million.
The gathering of the eight B-17G Flying Fortresses is not only monumental but historic. There are only nine air worthy
B-17G in the world and eight of whom were present in the air show and it mark the first time since World War II that eight
B-17 Flying Fortresses are together at the same show or at the same air strip not to mention on the air.
The B17G Flying Fortresses were the legendary Memphis Belle, Fuddy Duddy, Nine-O-Nine, Sentimental Journey, Thunderbird,
Liberty Belle, Chuckie and Yankee Air Museum resident B-17G, the Yankee Lady who survived the fire.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS include:
The appearances of the German Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Dassault- Dornier Alpha Jet respectively with
the latter often mistaken for the modern British Tornado Fighter/Bomber by some people.
The Heritage Flight of the Air National Guard’s modern A-10 and the vintage P- 51 and A-10 “Warthog”/
F-86 “Sabre” tandem.
The appearance of the last two flyable B-24 “Liberator" as well as the flight of the Russian built Mikoyan- Gurevich
Mig- 17 “Fresco” the successor of the Mig- 15 “Fagot” that faced the F-86 “Sabre” during
the Korean War whose designs were really identical, with a swept wing and all and were believed copied from the same design
of the German Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt 262 whose blue print fell into Allied hands at the end of War Two.
The flights of the Mosquito Squadron, the AT-6/ SNJ-5”Texan”, the P-51 “Mustangs” and the Republic
P-47 “Thunderbolt” all added to the glamour of the air show. It also marked the 65th birthday of the best fighter
of WWII, the P-51 “Mustangs”, the B- 25 “Mitchell” made famous in Doolittle’s 1942 raid on Tokyo
and the versatile J4F “Widgeon”.
The World War II battle re-enactment was a hit wherein re-enactors dressed in Allied and Axis uniforms conduct a mock battle
in the cornfields beside the airport complete with authentic WWII uniforms, guns and vehicles.
The Thunder Over Michigan is an eye- opener and educational for most of us.
It is a dramatic event that made us understand our history and appreciate more the roles of the “Warbirds”
and the bravery and sacrifices of the men who operate them that forever changed and altered the course of history so that
freedom and peace could reign on us forever.