Flying Pennsylvania Ave, Wash., DC for General/Mamie Eisenhower

August 4th, 2013

General Yeager had agreed to serve as Grand Marshal for the National Memorial Day Parade 2012. He was honored to accept on behalf of and representing veterans to honor those who had died.

Just before the Parade started, he was asked to speak.

So that is how General Yeager came to be standing in front of the crowd of over 250,000 people and who knows how many millions on tv and radio, saying: “Now don’t tell anyone, keep this a secret….but I’ve flown down this avenue at treetop level. Big No No.”

“After General Eisenhower died, Mamie Eisenhower asked if I could plan, lead and execute a fly-by during his funeral procession in March 1969.

I responded: Yes, ma’am!

I called the Pentagon and Andrews to set it up. A two star said: “You aren’t allowed to fly down Pennsylvania Avenue so you will not be doing so.”

Me: Okay.

Just in case, though, I led two flights of 4 F-4s from Seymour Johnson to Andrews AFB ready to do the fly by down Pennsylvania Avenue for General Eisenhower.

However on the day of the funeral, March 31, 1969, probably reflecting how we all felt about General Eisenhower’s passing, the weather was stinkin’ – foggy. The 2 star general made it clear: we were not allowed to fly down Pennsylvania Avenue.

I got a call there: Yeager, this is General McConnell.

Me: Yes, sir.

Gen McConnell: Do you think you can fly down Pennsylvania Avenue today?

Me: Sir, can you see the Capitol Dome?

Gen McConnell: Just barely.

Me: Then yes, sir, I think I can.

Gen McConnell: Good. Then do it.

Me: Sir, there’s a two star general here that tells me we can’t do the flight.

Gen McConnell: Yeager, do you know who I am

Me: Yes, sir. General McConnell.

Gen McConnell: Right. And do you know what I do?

Me: Yes, sir. Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Gen McConnell: So now any reason you can’t fly down Pennsylvania Avenue?

Me: No, sir.

Gen McConnell: Good. Then do it.

Me: Yes, sir.

General McConnell then spoke to he two star who, after he hung up, appeared to be very very unhappy. to say the least.

I’ll never forget as we were flying down Pennsylvania Avenue, I was leading two flights of four. The second flight was stacked down. The leader called in: Col, we’re awfully close to the tops of these trees.”

Gen Yeager: It ain’t the trees you need to worry about, it’s the Capitol Dome that will wipe you out!

He laughed.

That’s how Mamie Eisenhower got a formation fly by to honor her deserving, well-respected husband: General Eisenhower.

Here’s some video of it: at 10:29 minutes in:


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