Mitchell Team Flies on Historic C-47 Skytrain that Led D-Day Invasion 

May 16, 2024

Virginia Beach, Va. — Members of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies team traveled to the Military Aviation Museum of Virginia Beach, Va., on May 13 to see a number of Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft and DC-3 airliners transiting to Europe as part of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.  

The aircraft, privately owned and operated, will be flying the same route thousands of military aircraft utilized during WWII—up the east coast, through Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, and then Europe for the 80th anniversary on June 6.

Most notably, this collection of aircraft includes a C-47 known as, “That’s All, Brother,” which served as the lead drop aircraft for the entire aerial assault portion of the invasion. Owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force, “That’s All, Brother” continued to serve during WWII—including as part of Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge.

For the Mitchell staff, flying on “That’s All, Brother” was an incredible opportunity to connect with one of the most consequential displays of air mobility in the history of warfare.  

“It’s one thing to see an aircraft in a static museum, but quite another to hear it start up and roar into the sky,” Mitchell Institute Executive Director Douglas Birkey said. “I’ve been fortunate to be heavily involved with vintage aviation my entire life. It meant a great deal to share this opportunity with members of the Mitchell team. Thanks goes to the Commemorative Air Force and the Military Aviation Museum for making this possible. With WWII veterans nearly gone, these aircraft stand as the last direct witnesses to that incredible chapter in history.” 

“That’s All, Brother” eventually ended up flying in various civil capacities as an anonymous C-47. Its unique historic identity was discovered in 2007 by a historian—an Alabama Air National Guardsmen temporarily assigned to the Air Force Historical Research Agency. At the time, the aircraft was on the verge of being converted into a turbo-prop for continued commercial service. The Commemorative Air Force acquired the aircraft and fully restored it back to its WWII condition.  

About the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies

The Mitchell Institute is the only think tank focused on airpower and spacepower, located in the nation’s capital. The Mitchell Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research organization established to provide innovative, insightful, fact-based research, analysis, and policy options to inform decision-makers, experts, and the public on national security issues in the air and space domains. Mitchell provides deep analysis of important issues, strategy, and technology through research reports and policy papers on a wide range of subjects. Mitchell conducts cutting edge workshops and wargames and facilitates topical expert conversations through a variety of community activities and engagement opportunities, from symposia to round tables. Mitchell also engages top air and space leaders with its internationally acclaimed webinar series and influential weekly podcast series that both cover a broad range of timely air and space issues.   

About AFA 

The Air & Space Forces Association is an independent, non-profit 501(c)3 association dedicated to advocating for investment and support for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, and for supporting Airmen, Guardians, and their Families. Founded in 1946, AFA is the single largest entity of its kind focused on air and space power. With more than 113,000 members and 200 chapters spread around the world, our mission is to promote dominant U.S. Air and Space Forces as the foundation of a strong National Defense; to honor and support Airmen, Guardians, and their Families; and to remember and respect the enduring heritage of the Air and Space Forces.