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Benovia Winery co-founder, pilot flying over Normandy to honor D-Day troops

The rumble of DC-3 airliners converted into warriors will be heard once again over Normandy on June 6, the 75th anniversary of history’s largest military invasion.

About three dozen of the restored aircraft from around the world - one from Sonoma County - will perform an aerial salute to the nearly 160,000 Allied troops who stormed the coast of Nazi-occupied France on D-Day in 1944.

The morning of that invasion, which began the liberation of Europe and ultimately the defeat of Adolf Hitler, military variations of the DC-3 delivered about 24,000 paratroopers and soldiers huddled inside gliders.

Taking part in the commemorative D-Day Squadron is an airplane owned by the Russian River’s Benovia Winery. Benovia co-founder Joe Anderson and chief pilot Jeff Coffman are bound for Europe in The Spirit of Benovia, a DC-3 that did not participate in the D-Day invasion but aided the fight against Japan by flying treacherous supply missions over the Himalayas.

To follow the progress of the Benovia plane, go to www.benoviawinery.com/?d-day-commemoration.

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