MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – In the days leading up to November 11th, it’s still not uncommon to see grandfathers at Joe B. Barnes Park patiently telling their grandsons the history of WWII, and the part the aircraft on display here played in Oklahoma history, too.
“It’s incredibly important that the next generation understand the price that’s been paid,” insists former state senator Gary Banz.
He and grandson, Nathaniel Livingston did a lot more than just visit the C-47 though.
Together, they produced a documentary film to show the world.
“You just kind of start with where the story started,” quips Banz.
What makes this particular airplane unique and worth telling about is its all encompassing history.
It was manufactured at the local Douglas plant in 1943.
It dropped paratroopers into France on D-Day in June of 1944.
Pilot Royce Barnes received the Distinguished Flying Cross while guiding this plane back across the English Channel on one engine and one wheel during Operation Market Garden.
Co-producer Nate Livingston believes, “The fact that it went through WWII and it’s still here, and that story is still alive. That’s pretty cool.”
After the war, it served 30 years as a corporate aircraft for the Kerr-McGee Corporation.
Visitors to the Oklahoma State Fair will recall it sitting on display from 1976 to 2006.
From there, it went to MetroTech and eventually, a years’ long restoration project beginning in 2017.
Banz himself helped spearhead an effort to get it fixed up and put on display once again, this time fewer than two miles from where it was made.
Grandfather and grandson both agreed the story deserved to travel much further than the intersection of Reno Avenue and Douglas Blvd.
“The plane has a story,” he argues, “and if you’re standing in front of it and looking at the panels that tell the story, you get the story. But we needed a much broader circulation than that.”
‘Skytrain’ is what they called the C-47s when they rolled off the line at Tinker Field, 13 per day at the height of production.
This survivor covers all of that history taking once more to the air in documentary form for the world to admire.
Find more information on the documentary and its makers here.
Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union