Submitted by the Cascade Warbirds.
Cascade Warbirds members will be flying their aircraft in a special formation to salute USMC LtCol Raymond Swalley who died earlier this year. The flyover is scheduled to coordinate with the funeral ceremony at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 24, at the Little Church on the Prairie, 6310 Motor Avenue SW, Lakewood, WA.
Called the Missing Man Formation, when the flyers reach the viewpoint, the pilot to the right of the flight leader breaks away from the others and turns to the west, physically demonstrating the term, “gone West”, spoken by aviators in reference to those no longer with them.
LtCol Swalley flew F4U Corsairs during WWII off the USS Bunker Hill during the battles of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and main land Japan. He has spoken at Cascade Warbirds on his missions in the Pacific during the war and later was part of the occupying forces after the surrender by the Japanese. Together with his son, Mark, a former Cascade Warbirds member, the Swalleys built an airplane.
The Cascade Warbirds will be flying aircraft from three different countries. The flight will be led by Squadron commander John “Smokey” Johnson in his North American SNJ, accompanied by a North American Navion, a Romanian designed and built IAR 823, and a Chinese Nanchang CJ-6. “We are pleased to have our members volunteer in this salute, as a big part of our mission is to honor veterans, and especially one like LtCol Swalley who shared his experiences with us,” said Johnson.
Cascade Warbirds is Squadron #2 of Experimental Aircraft Association Warbirds of America and is a non-profit organization of local aviation enthusiasts, many of whom are pilot-owners of historic military aircraft. With more than 230 members and the largest squadron in Warbirds of America, Cascade Warbirds is centered in the Puget Sound area. It meets at the Museum of Flight in Seattle from October until flying weather returns in April. Its mission is to promote and encourage the flying preservation and display of Warbird aircraft (Keep ‘em Flying), to honor Veterans, and to engage in aviation education. Watch for them at airshows throughout the Northwest. Find more about them on the web at http://www.cascadewarbirds.org