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CAF Capital Wing Uncovers Combat History of Assigned L-5

Culpeper, VA (April 17, 2023)- After six months of painstaking research by one of the world’s leading military aviation historians, the Capital Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is proud to announce a World War II combat warbird has been added to its fleet. As it turns out, this aircraft has been a part of the CAF Ghost Squadron for almost 30 years.

The Capital Wing has flown Gayle Ann, a Stinson L-5 Sentinel, for years, unaware of its impressive past. With the help of a historian, they recently learned that the L-5 Gayle Ann was an OY-1, the Marine designation for an L-5 type. In 1943, the aircraft was received by the U.S. Marines in Quantico, Virginia, and assigned to VMO-4, Marine Observation Squadron 4. Ironically, Quantico is just 30 miles away from Culpeper, Virginia, where this aircraft has been assigned to the Capital Wing for several years.

Photo sometime before 1947: Capital Wing's L-5 Sentinel (S/N 42-98752).

Additional information uncovered that in 1944 the Capital Wing’s OY-1 was loaded on the USS White Plains (CVE-66) escort aircraft carrier in San Diego and sailed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. From there, the aircraft was transported to the Mariana Islands in the Pacific. Records indicate that on June 17, 1944, the OY-1 flew off the White Plains and participated in the Battle of Saipan by providing artillery spotting from the air.

The Capital Wing’s OY-1 is one of the three combat Sentinels known to have survived World War II that are still airworthy in the U.S. Most World War II-era warbirds painted in combat squadron colors flying in aviation events today never saw combat; many never even left the U.S. The CAF Capital Wing is proud to operate one of only a handful of warbirds that performed in combat operations.

More history was uncovered that further linked the Capital Wing to this OY-1. The USS White Plains that transported the OY-1 to the Marianas also had three TBF's, 16 FM-2 Wildcats, and nine TBM Avenger torpedo bombers onboard. This is remarkable because the Capital Wing’s other assigned aircraft is Doris Mae, a TBM Avenger. For years these two aircraft have traveled with the Capital Wing throughout the mid-Atlantic region, parked next to each other on the ramp for static displays and tours. With this discovery, we now know that these two aircraft present a historic snapshot back to 1944 on the deck of the USS White Plains heading to the Pacific Theater.

About The Capital Wing The Capital Wing is a Unit of the Commemorative Air Force based in Culpeper, Virginia. Like other CAF Unit locations, the Capital Wing restores, preserves, and flies their assigned aircraft so the public can experience history hands-on. This is done to educate and inspire others through this vital history and honor the men and women who built, maintained, and flew these warbirds to defend and protect our freedom. The Capital Wing offers rides in their aircraft which can be booked at https://www.capitalwingwarbirdrides.org/.

About the Commemorative Air Force (CAF): The CAF’s mission is to Educate, Inspire, and Honor through flight and living history experiences. As the world's largest flying museum, it has spent over six decades collecting and flying World War II aircraft. Their fleet of more than 175 World War II airplanes are assigned to unit locations across the U.S., supported by over 19,000 volunteer members. Nearly all the aircraft are kept in flying condition, enabling people to experience firsthand the sights and sounds of vintage military aircraft in flight. To learn more about the organization, visit www.CommemorativeAirForce.org.

*Information provided by the CAF Capital Wing and J.H. Gray, Sentinel Owners & Pilots Association. *

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