75th D-Day Commemoration
In June 2019, the D-Day Invasion will see her 75th commemoration. It will probably be the very last large commemoration of this historic day. We are proud that our C-53 “The Spirit of Benovia” Skytrooper will join dozens of WWII era aircraft in a flight from the U.S. to Normandy to honor those who paid so much to liberate Europe. Chief Pilot Jeff Coffman will fly The Spirit of Benovia to Normandy with Benovia’s co-owner Anderson also aboard.
We are offering a 75th D-Day Anniversary Commemorative wine to help support this historic endeavor and a percentage of sales will be donated to a D-Day Squadron charitable fund that is helping to transport veterans, students and the vintage American aircraft to the celebration in Normandy.
The 2016 Liberation Pinot Noir sold out fast last year, but we are now in the process of bottling the 2017 Liberation Pinot Noir, which is sure to sell out just as fast!
The commemorative wine bottle boasts custom art by Craig Kodera that depicts the planes in action over Normandy and the artwork on the nose of the featured plane was inspired by a B-29 that Joe Anderson’s uncle flew in World War II.
June the 6th 1944 marks the date on which almost 160,000 Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches to start the liberation of Western-Europe. The assault was preceded by 24,000 troops who parachuted in or came by glider. The most important aircraft to support the airborne assault was formed by over 800 Douglas C-47 Skytrains.
A variant of the civilian DC-3 passenger planes, the C-53 Skytroopers were among the workhorses of World War II and played a key role in the Invasion of Normandy, known as “D-Day,” which occurred on June 6, 1944 when Allied forces stormed several beaches in the Normandy region of France, a turning point in the war which led to the liberation of Western Europe from the Nazis.
The Spirit of Benovia first flew in 1942 and had a colorful history in both military and civilian service. It flew over the Himalayas to support the Allied Forces against Japan during World War II. After World War II it was sold to the Civil Air Transport in Taiwan and helped transport Chinese Nationalists from China to Taiwan following the Communists’ takeover. The plane continued to fly covert missions against the Communists in Southeast Asia, as part of the CIA’s Air America. Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane, co-founders of Benovia Winery, acquired the plane in 2008 and renamed it The Spirit of Benovia. Since then, they have taken World War II veterans and the families of those who served in the Civil Air Transport on commemorative, sentimental flights.
“When you think of all the hands around the world that have touched this airplane, it’s amazing. We are so proud to fly The Spirit of Benovia in this special celebration,” said Anderson. “My father and two of my uncles served in combat in World War II and we are so blessed that they came home. It’s important to us to honor everyone who fought for our freedom. This will be a poignant celebration as there are still surviving soldiers who will be able to join us.”
The plane will make the significant journey in stages from Arizona, to Connecticut, Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, England – and finally, to Normandy on June 6, 2019. The Spirit of Benovia will remain in Europe and two weeks after the D-Day celebration, the plane will also participate in a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift.
During the Berlin Airlift which began in 1948, Allied forces brought food and fuel to residents of West Berlin after the Soviet Union cut off all access to roads, trains and canals into the city.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the 1948/1949 Berlin Airlift, these historic Candy Bombers will come back to Germany and Berlin. For what will no doubt be the very last time.
From all over the Globe aircraft of the types Douglas DC-3/C-47, Douglas DC-4/C-54 and Junkers JU-52 will make their way to the German capital. Confirmed to date are aircraft from all over Europe and over 20 from the United States. A Douglas DC-4 will make its way to Europe from South-Africa. And one of the owners has his C-47 in Australia and will also do his utmost to be there.
As Anderson (right) and Coffman prepare the plane for these historic events, and throughout the trip, fans can follow the plane’s progress via social media and on www.benoviawinery.com/d-day-commemoration. Before and after the journey, The Spirit of Benovia will be on display at air shows in the U.S. and Europe.
To mark the occasion, Benovia winemaker Mike Sullivan has crafted just 56 cases of a special Pinot Noir blend called Liberation, made from Benovia’s Tilton Hill estate vineyard, harvested in 2016. The wine will be $70 per bottle and a percentage of sales from Liberation will be donated to a D-Day Squadron charitable fund that is helping to transport veterans, students and the vintage American aircraft to the celebration in Normandy.
To read more about the event organizers, D-Day Squadron, please check out their website here