Downtown flyover set to kick-off Armed Forces Day Parade

Submitted photoU.S. Navy World War II Torpedo Bombers are set to participate in this year's McAlester Armed Forces Day Parade and Fly-In on May 4, with the parade set for downtown McAlester and the Fly-In set to begin at noon at McAlester Regional Airport.

A flyover downtown McAlester by vintage military aircraft is set to kick off the annual Armed Forces Day Parade in McAlester on Saturday, May 4.

The flyover is expected to include two F-16 aircraft with the 138th Tactical Fighter Wing.

"They will fly over Choctaw Avenue at 10-hundred hours to open open the parade," said Armed Forces Day Committee Chairman Jeff Wolf, using military time to express the 10 a.m. starting time for the annual parade.

Among those who have confirmed to participate in the parade is the First Battalion of the 180th Infantry, Wolf said. The 1/180th is back from deployment and ready to participate in this year's parade, he said.

"The soldiers and their assets will be in the parade," Wolf said, That includes everything from rifles to mortars and vehicles.

Also participating will be members of the Oklahoma Military Vehicles Collectors Club said Wolf, who is a founding member.

"We'll have members all the way from Oklahoma City, Mustang, Coalgate, Wister and Talihina," Wolf said. "They all come in to do this parade."

Bands confirmed to participate in the parade include the McAlester High School Marching Band and the Coalgate High School Marching Band.

Others who plan to participate include members and aircraft affiliated with the Flying Tigers Museum in Bonham, Texas, along with members and aircraft from the Mid-America Flight Museum in Mount Pleasant, Texas., said Wolf.

"The cream of the crop is the B-25 Mitchell from Mount Pleasant," Wolf said, referring to the World War II bomber aircraft.

"We're also getting a rare torpedo bomber," Wolf said. He said the torpedo bombers were the largest planes to take off from the deck of aircraft carriers. He also said it's the only U.S. military aircraft to carry three-member crew, consisting of the pilot, the radioman/navigator and a a gunner. Other planes had larger or small crews, but the B-29 still has the distinction of being the only three-crew aircraft in the U.S. armed forces, said Wolf.

The Tulsa 138th Tactical Fighter Wing, a private group, will be sending two aircraft to McAlester for the Armed Forces Day Parade and the following fly-in at McAlester Regional Airport, said Wolf.

"This parade is one event in a series of events to recognize McAlester's sesquicentennial," Wolf said, referring to the 150th anniversary of J.J. McAlester opening his first trading post or general store in what is now known as McAlester's Old Town in 1869.

Wolf said some of the events, including the fly-over at the parade and the Fly-In at McAlester Regional Airport would not have been possible without the assistance of Spirit AeroSystems and other sponsors.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com