The Miss Montana, the World War II vintage C-47 smokejumper aircraft landed safely in Missoula on Monday afternoon to a cheering crowd after an historic mission to help reenact the D-Day paratrooper drop over Normandy.

Pilot Bryan Douglass related his most profound moment in the trip that began in May.

“The whole goal of the original mission was to drop the paratroopers over Normandy on June 5th,” said Douglass. “That had to be the highlight to stand there and see those men and women in their original World War II uniforms and their round chutes sitting there on the jump seats preparing to jump out as we crossed the channel and were in formation with other airplanes, and then watching them go out the door. You couldn’t help but think about what happened 75 years ago exactly to the day.”

Douglass said Miss Montana will get a thorough going over and then get back in the air.

“For Miss Montana, we’ve been invited to an air show in Lewiston, Idaho next weekend,” he said. “We’re planning to do an event for the Mann Gulch anniversary on August 5th and a day or two before that. Then we’re going to a fly-in at Three Forks and we’re planning to take her to Oshkosh for a big air show there. We want to keep her flying and we’re going to look for ways to pay the bills and keep this living history alive so the next generation doesn’t forget.”

Douglass said the welcome home was a memorable experience.

“It was great,” he laughed. “There were people standing around the museum a whole bunch of our volunteers and supporters and families, of course. Across the way at Neptune (Aviation) they had a big crowd and they were such a huge help in this whole thing and really made a huge difference in getting this thing done. We got a water salute from the fire department, which was a first for me.”

Apropos for a vintage firefighting aircraft as she landed safely at home in Missoula after a long and hugely successful journey.

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