A Kickstarter campaign launched by the Commemorative Air Force to raise $75,000 to buy the Douglas C-47 “That’s all, Brother” — the airplane that led the massive paratroop drop on D-Day — was an overwhelming success.
In the first two days after launching the Kickstarter campaign, CAF raised the $75,000 it needed to acquire the iconic airplane, which was discovered in an aircraft boneyard in Wisconsin.
The fundraising campaign was such a success — becoming one of the top 10 Kickstarter campaigns in the world — that CAF officials turned it into a “stretch” campaign, upping the ante to $250,000.The additional funds will be used to restore “That’s All, Brother” to airworthy status, making the C-47 “a star” within the CAF fleet, according to officials.
CAF officials launched the Kickstarter campaign after it negotiated with Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh, Wis., to purchase the plane, which Basler had planned to convert into a modern BT-67 turboprop. Company officials were unaware of the plane’s historical significance until a researcher alerted them.
“This is a modern miracle,” said CAF President/CEO Stephan C. Brown. “The aircraft was within weeks of being torn apart, when its serial number 42-92847 was traced and it turned out to be the actual lead aircraft for the D-Day invasion.”
Five hours before the D-Day beach landings began, “That’s All, Brother” led a formation of more than 800 aircraft that dropped 13,000 paratroopers behind enemy lines. Historic film, shot as the airplane departs on its D-Day mission, shows it was equipped with an early form of airborne radar to guide the invasion force to the drop zone.
The aircraft’s name was a personal message to Adolf Hitler that, with the Allied invasion of Europe, his plans were done.
As part of the agreement to buy the C-47, CAF needed to complete the purchase by Aug. 31. A majority of the funds were donated by an anonymous CAF colonel, but the organization was $75,000 short. That’s when they turned to Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding site.
CAF officials note they were “honored and humbled” by the “overwhelmingly positive and generous response” to saving the iconic airplane.
“Thank you for sharing the vision and for understanding that we simply could not let ‘That’s All, Brother’ be lost to history forever,” officials said on the Kickstarter page.
Now, in a bid to keep the momentum going, CAF raised the goal to $250,000 to restore “That’s All, Brother” to flying condition, with the most authentic World War II configuration possible. This will include exterior paint engine overhauls, and installing original seats, avionics, radio and radar equipment.
CAF then plans to create an educational program that uses the C-47 as a flying classroom that travels throughout the country. Plans are to allow schoolchildren to become “paratroopers for a day.”
Guided by costumed reenactors, they will go through a series of exercises that use the same skills that the paratroopers had to use on D-Day: Teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.
“We want to bring this world class artifact back to the public as part of the CAFs mission to educate future generations about the legacy and values of those who fought for freedom in World War II,” Brown said.
The aircraft will be based in Dallas as a centerpiece of CAF’s new national aviation museum attraction. It will also be available to attend major national commemoration events, airshows and flyovers. The
CAF also plans to fly the aircraft to Europe in the summer of 2019 to participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the last opportunity for living veterans to attend a major commemoration event.