Archbishop, rabbi to take ‘Spirit Flights’ over city

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The 1943 Boeing PT-17 Stearman (courtesy of Big Easy Wing)

 

From Big Easy Wing

In an initiative to honor this week’s religious holidays during a major health crisis, the Big Easy Wing of the Commemorative Air Force will launch its first “Spirit Flights” over New Orleans. Two local religious leaders will be flying over the city in a World War II plane.

The first flight will take on Good Friday (April 10) at 10 a.m. Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond will fly over the city to bless the citizens of metropolitan area during this pandemic. Aymond himself only recently recovered from COVID-19.

“We continue to ask for prayers for our health care workers, our leaders, those who are sick, and those who have died,” Ayond said.

At noon, Rabbi Alexis Erdheim with Gates of Prayer Synagogue will take her Spirit Flight. “We are a community that is blessed with a diversity of beliefs, cultures, backgrounds, and religions,” Erdheim said. “No matter how different we may all be, we in New Orleans know that when our backs are against the wall, we are strongest when we are together.”

The flight will be made in a 1943 Boeing PT-17 Stearman, a World War II era biplane. It will zig zag over the metropolitan area from Kenner to St. Bernard Parish including both sides of the river.

The airplane will depart from Lakefront Airport in front of the Big Easy Wing’s hangar. The flight should last about 30 minutes from take-off to landing and should be easily visible from the ground. The aircraft will fly at around 1,000 feet and can be identified by its bright yellow wings.

“We came up with the idea for the Spirit Flight’ because this is such an important spiritual week for the world, and for a city and people who have gone through so much, we thought it was something that may bring some joy to people who really need it,” said Big Easy Wing Leader David Capo. “We have asked a few other religious and community leaders to participate in Spirit Flight, and will likely be doing more in the future.”

Due to safety concerns, the group is taking extra steps and special considerations for the flight including limiting the number of people involved.

The airport has limited the number of people allowed on the ramp to just the essential aircrew and the archbishop at 10 a.m. and the rabbi at noon.

The launch and recovery of this Spirit Flight is closed to all spectators including media and the general public. The Stearman aircraft will be easily visible from the ground with its bright yellow wings as it flies over the city at 1,000 feet.

The flight is subject to cancellation due to weather.  If there is a cancellation or delay on our Big East Wing Facebook page.

The Big Easy Wing is a local chapter of the Commemorative Air Force, an international World War II flying museum. The wing was founded three years ago and operates from two bases located at Lakefront Airport and Hammond.

The organization has more than 100 volunteer members who maintain and operate the aircraft, as well as host and attend aviation and educational events across the country. To learn more about the Big Easy Wing visit www.bigeasywing.org.

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