Large military flyover scheduled for Okaloosa Island

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla., April 11, 2022—One of the largest military aerial reviews in the county is scheduled for April 18 at 5 p.m. on Okaloosa Island.

This flyby is honoring the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle raid of World War II and the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force.

The flyover, hosted by Air Force Special Operations Command, along with the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, includes 14 Air Force aircraft and six civilian military heritage aircraft, and can be viewed from The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island as well as other locations along the island.

The event not only honors the 80th anniversary of the Doolittle raid, but also honors the last Raider, Col. Richard E. “Dick” Cole, who passed away in April 2019.

Lt. Dick Cole, second from right, was Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot for the Tokyo bombing raid during World War II. Doolittle is standing on Cole’s right.

A young Lieutenant Cole flew in the first B-25 Mitchell bomber to take off from the deck of the USS Hornet April 18, 1942, leading the one-way mission to bomb Tokyo during World War II as copilot for then-Lt. Col Jimmy Doolittle.

Before the operation, the Raiders secretly trained at then-Eglin Field’s Auxiliary Field No. 1, also known as Wagner Field, where aircrews practiced aircraft carrier takeoffs, cross-country flying, night flying and navigation, and low-altitude bombing, rapid bombing and evasive maneuvers.

The aerial review is also a demonstration of today’s airpower and rich history of the U.S. Air Force as part of the service’s 75th anniversary celebration.

The Air Force, organized as the U.S. Army Air Corps, was established as a separate branch of the U.S. military in September 1947 after the National Security Act of 1947 was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

Air Force aircraft participating in the Okaloosa Island aerial review include:

  • MC-130H Combat Talon II, 15th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field
  • AC-130J Ghostrider, 4th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field
  • CV-22 Osprey, 8th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field
  • F-22 Raptor, 43rd Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base
  • F-15E Strike Eagle, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Eglin AFB
  • F-16 Fighting Falcon, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Eglin AFB
  • F-35 Lightning II, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin AFB
  • HH-60 Pave Hawk, 41st Rescue Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga.
  • A-10 Thunderbolt II, 75th Fighter Squadron, Moody AFB
  • B-52 Stratofortress, 11th & 23rd Bomb Squadrons, Minot AFB, N.D.
  • B-1 Lancer, 34th & 37th Bomb Squadrons, Ellsworth AFB, S.D.
The B-26 Mitchell “Betty’s Dream” is operated by the Texas Flying Legends.

Civilian aircraft include:

  • B-25 Mitchell
  • L-5 Sentinel
  • T-6 Texan II
  • T-34 Mentor
  • P-51 Mustang
  • and the Black Ducks, home based at McCutchan Field between Floridale and Harold, flown by retired generals Lt. Gen. Mike Wooley, former AFSOC commander, and Maj. Gen. Clay McCutchan, Reserve mobilization assistant to General Wooley.

The aerial review will also be live-streamed on AFSOC’s Facebook page.

In addition to the flyover, a Doolittle Final Goblet Ceremony will take place at the Northwest Florida State College Mattie Kelly Arts Center at 1 p.m.

During past Doolittle reunions, after toasting the Raiders who died since their last meeting, surviving members turned the deceased men’s goblets upside down. Each goblet has the Raider’s name engraved so it can be read if the goblet is right-side up or upside down.

During the April 18 ceremony, the last Doolittle goblet will be turned over in recognition of Col. Cole’s passing and join the other 79 that were turned before his.

Tickets for the goblet ceremony are $10 (complimentary for active duty military) and are available online at mattiekellyartscenter.org/event/doolittle-raiders-final-goblet-ceremony/. For further details about the ceremony, visit www.fwbchamber.org/Doolittleraiders.

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