Straight & Level 18 February

Parachuting back to 1944

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, a group of enthusiasts plans to re-enact the parachute drops from C-47 Douglas Dakota aircraft that helped the allies secure key bridgeheads in the hours before the seaborne assault.

The Round Canopy Parachuting Team plans to assemble restored Dakotas from around the world to create what it describes as an “awesome spectacle” over the French skies. The effort will cost $750,000, and the RCPT has launched an appeal for funds.

The organisation is made up of 250 members from 14 countries – all parachutists who have trained using the same round canopies used in the war. They plan to land on dropzones wearing replica uniforms and “in the exact manner and discipline that paratroopers jumped into battle”.

The RCPT estimates that around 15 C-47s or DC-3s are flying in Europe and it wants to get as many as possible to the event, which will start with a fly-past on 3 June at the former HMS Daedalus air base in Hampshire, before the formation takes off for Normandy the next day. From 4-8 June the aircraft will be based at Cherbourg Maupertus airport, where the public will get a chance to see the C-47s at close quarters – and maybe fly in them too.

For details or to donate go to

RCPT paratroopers exit a C-47 during a commemorative parachute drop

Mystery fighter

Our festive quiz may have passed, but Timothy Oates has asked for the help of Uncle Roger’s nephews in identifying this jet fighter “underneath the wing of what could be a Neptune maritime recce aircraft of the 1950s or 1960s”.

Our Ladybird book of Cold War aircraft tells us it’s a Fairey Delta 2, but we’re happy to be corrected.

Unknown jet under wing of Neptune maritime recce perhaps.

Brand new

Eurocopter – sorry, Airbus Helicopters – has vowed to come up with a new designation for its next model, getting rid of the neat EC branding that some of us were only just starting to get used to. That is slated to be the X4 in 2017, but so far the firm has offered few clues. AH is clearly out. A simple A might introduce a commonality with its sister business, but would surely lead to confusion.

Perhaps like Prince, the brand formerly known as Eurocopter could simply adopt a symbol.

The branding gurus – still counting the fee for coming up with Cassidian and that metallic family of logos two years back – must be rubbing their hands.

 Ordering lunch

That original Wall Street wolf Gordon Gekko boasted that lunch was for wimps. Not so for Airbus’s own lupine super-salesman John Leahy, who at the “last minute” persuaded VietJet Air executives to up their order for 62 A321neos by one further aircraft over a midday meal at the Singapore air show.

At $110 million a pop list price, we doubt any bean-counter in Toulouse will be quibbling that restaurant bill when he files his expenses.


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