Air show will bring history alive with classic WWII airplanes, re-enactments, period music and tributes to war’s veterans

WISCASSET – The TBM Avenger, which is a WWII torpedo bomber — the same kind flown by the elder President George Bush in WWII — will be there.

So will an FG 1-D Corsair, nicknamed “Whistling Death” by the Japanese.

A P-51 Mustang, considered among the best fighter planes of its time, will fly, as well as a T-6 Texan, used to train WWII fighter pilots.

Also there: Dennis St. Pierre, a Lewiston native and Hallowell resident, who will be producing the air show that those planes and others will be at Aug. 8 and 9 at the Wiscasset Municipal Airport.

Called Wings Over Wiscasset, the show is “a living history event,” said St. Pierre, a professional actor and singer when he’s not producing the air show and other events.

The brainchild of a Texas couple who summer in the Boothbay area, the show will allow the public to get up close and personal with WWII planes and Texas Flying Legends pilots. “They’ll open the bomber doors, people can get up and look inside,” St. Pierre said. “The pilots will be present to talk about them.”

The show will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. On Friday night there’ll be a big-band swing dance from 8 to 11 p.m. The highlight of the show will be a 1 p.m. Saturday awards ceremony honoring WWII veterans, followed by the air show at 3 p.m.

Also featured will be WWII-era music, an operational military base camp, theatrical re-enactments of WWII life and talks by pilots and veterans.

The goal is to promote history and honor veterans. This year’s theme is “sacrifice before self,” to illustrate how WWII veterans sacrificed so others could live free, St. Pierre said.

Wings Over Wiscasset is free, but donations are asked. The event is a fundraiser for five nonprofit organizations. It was created last year through the generosity of Ed and Marie Bosarge of Texas. They are the founders of the Houston-based Texas Flying Legends, which sends its WWII planes all over the country to teach history.

The couple wanted to do something in Maine. The first Wings Over Wiscasset was held in 2013. “We had 5,000 people attend on a Tuesday last year,” St. Pierre said. This year the event will be two days.

St. Pierre, who has produced concerts and fundraisers in Lewiston-Auburn, Detroit and Los Angeles, had already worked with the Bosarges when they tapped him to produce the first show last year.

“Originally they planned on a small concert and an air show,” St. Pierre said. “I saw how much money it would cost to bring these planes in and have a concert. I proposed it become a fundraiser for the mid-coast region. They let me create what I created. With help from a huge amount of volunteers, we made this amazing event.”

Maine WWII veterans will assist with the show. One will be Jim Sheppard of South Portland, a WWII flight mechanic with the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black aviators in the military, who flew P-51 Mustangs. In 2012 George Lucas made the movie “Red Tails” about the Tuskegee Airmen.

Some 10 WWII veterans from Lewiston, Auburn, Lisbon Falls, Jay and the coastal area are expected to attend, St. Pierre said. On both days of the event there’ll be a talk by the veterans about what life was like during the war.

“It is one of the greatest things I’ve experienced,” St. Pierre said. “They bring pictures, documents, talk about day-to-day living. They avoid the gory stuff.”

The talks will be videotaped and shared with schools for classes studying the war, something organizers feel is especially important as the nation loses its aging WWII veterans.

During both days, actors will also re-enact life during the war, including from the German perspective, with a full base camp complete with tents, a mess hall, a MASH tent and weapons demonstrations.

Anyone who owns an antique military vehicle is invited to bring it to the event. “We’ll show them on site,” St. Pierre said.

Music will play a big part in the show, and will include 1940s tunes by Glenn Miller, the Andrew Sisters, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey — some recorded, some live performances.

On Friday night a swing dance concert will be held, at which St. Pierre will sing with the Compaq Big Band from Boston. The dance is the only event with an admission charge. The $35-a-person ticket will help pay for the air show and raise money for the five nonprofits. A hangar will be decked out as a USO dance. “We’re asking people to come dressed up” in 1940s clothes, St. Pierre said.

Since honoring veterans is a goal, there will be another hangar devoted to supporting services for veterans, including representatives of the Veterans Administration at Togus, the Lewiston Vet Center and multiple veterans organizations.

The Wiscasset Municipal Airport is off Route 1, on the same road as the old Maine Yankee nuclear power plant. St. Pierre said there will be ample free parking.

Celebrating World War II

What: Wings Over Wiscasset, a WWII air show featuring airplanes flown by Texas Flying Legends pilots; also WWII-era music, theatrical re-enactments, a Friday night swing dance and a hangar devoted to helping connect veterans with services.

When: All day, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 8 and 9. Highlights: Planes and other WWII vehicles and equipment on display both days. Friday: swing dance from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday: 1 p.m. awards ceremony and concert honoring WWII veterans; 3 p.m. air show. Theatrical WWII re-enactment camp tours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

Where: Wiscasset Municipal Airport off Route 1 (same road as old Maine Yankee nuclear power plant).

Why: To honor veterans, promote history and raise money for five nonprofit organizations. Maine WWII veterans will be on hand, including Jim Sheppard of South Portland, a former flight mechanic with the Tuskegee Airmen: www.theforecaster.net/content/s-south-portland-tuskegee-airman-red-tails-011312

Cost: Free; donations requested. Exception: A Friday night WWII big-band swing dance held to raise money to pay for the event and support the nonprofits is $35 a person.

For a schedule and more info: wingsoverwiscasset.org/


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