Air Force to conduct historic Beach Flyover on Okaloosa Island, honoring Doolittle Raiders

A historic aerial display in honor of the 80th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders and the 75th Anniversary of the United States Air Force.
Two CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft with the 8th Special Operations Squadron conduct an air-refueling mission with a KC-10 Extender from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., over the Gulf of Mexico, Nov. 18, 2016. The air-refuel mission marked the first time an 8th SOS aircraft has connected to a KC-10. The KC-10 is an Air Mobility Command advanced tanker and cargo aircraft designed to provide increased global mobility for U.S. armed forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Pick)

On April 18th, the United States Air Force will conduct the biggest flyover that Okaloosa County has ever seen, as more than 14+ aircraft will make their way along the beaches of Okaloosa Island.

  • The flyover begins promptly at 5pm.
  • Can be seen from all parts of Okaloosa Island.

The flyover is not only a tribute to the Doolittle Raiders, but to also commemorate the Air Force’s 75th Anniversary.

  • The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce will host the “Final Goblet,” a ceremony that will mark the passing of Doolittle Raider, Col. Richard E. “Dick” Cole, earlier the same day.

“Starting at five o’clock, all of the planes are going depart from Hurlburt Field and head in an easterly direction toward Okaloosa Island,” said Ted Corcoran, FWB Chamber CEO. “Because of the Destin Airport, how far east the planes actually travel is unknown at this time.”

As far as Corcoran knows, this will be the largest gathering of planes in a flyover ever on the Emerald Coast.

“Although we are unable to tell the exact number of planes right now, we are forecasting that it will be more than 14 planes in the flyover,” said Corcoran. “It will likely never be repeated because this is to honor the Doolittle Raiders and celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Air Force.”

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Then-Brig. Gen. Brad Webb, who is now a lieutenant general and head of Air Education and Training Command, is seated next to Obama. (Pete Souza/White House)

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command in San Antonio, will not only be moderating the Final Goblet ceremony but will be flying in the flyover as well.

  • General Webb has been described as the “point man for the takedown of Osama bin Laden.” 

“He has told me that he is going to be in one of the CV-22s” said Corcoran. “He’s retiring soon and told me directly that for his retirement, he wanted to be flying in this flyover.”

Also taking part in the flyover is Retired Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Rich Cole, the son of Col. Richard E. “Dick” Cole, the last member of the Doolittle Raiders to pass. “Dick” Cole will be honored at the Final Goblet ceremony earlier that day

“Dr. Rich Cole has confirmed to me verbally that at least one B-25 will be leading the flyover and he intends to be in one,” said Corcoran. “Just like General Webb, Cole intends to leave the ceremony and head to Hurlburt to be part of this occasion.”

“It will never be duplicated in our area again.”

The significance of this event is not lost on Corcoran, who, aside from being an integral part of the Final Goblet ceremony, has also been coordinating the flyover with the military and community partners to help make this a great event.

“It’s the 75th Anniversary of the Air Force,” said Corcoran. “We’re able to combine this celebration with a showcase to honor the Doolittle Raiders.”

But this flyover also has the opportunity to show our visitors more of the military in our community.

  • “Many people who visit here do not know of our military heritage,” added Corcoran. “They may have seen an Osprey helicopter fly by or even an F-35, but this may be the first time they truly see how big Eglin and Hurlburt are, not only to our area, but to the world. They will be able to see that there is more to our area than just our beaches.”

“It will also be a photo-op beyond comparison and will never be duplicated in this area again,” he continued.

The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island will host the event and will feature a number of activities:

  • Choctaw High School Jazz Band will play a special musical performance before the flyover.
  • Patriotic music will pipe through the entire sound system at The Boardwalk during the flyover.
  • Mike Minich with Southern Events Management will announce aircraft details.
  • Al’s Beach Club will have family-friendly entertainment including airplane balloon artists and free patriotic face painting for kids.
  • Emerald Coast TV will be live-streaming the event.

“Save the date,” exclaimed Corcoran. “This is truly an event that you do not want to miss.”

Date: April 18th
Time: 5pm
Location: The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island (or anywhere along the Okaloosa Island beaches)

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