World War II-era Condor Squadron planes take to the skies over SoCal in July Fourth tradition

VAN NUYS, Calif. (KABC) — Pilots on Tuesday took the vintage World War II-era Condor Squadron planes into the air above Southern California in an eye-catching Fourth of July tradition.

“To be able to fly, represent the Condor Squadron, these military airplanes, on a day like today, in front of millions of people — it’s a real honor and everybody’s waving,” said Chris Rushing, president of the Condor Squadron. “Everybody sees us and it’s really special.”

The squadron is non-profit organization that was founded in 1965 by a group of World War II veteran fighter pilots.

“The significance for it for us is to fly these airplanes, and people look up and think about the nation’s military and the brave men and women that served,” said Rob Sandberg, the group’s director of flight operations. “To see these beautiful airplanes that were built in the ’30s and ’40s, and that they’re still flying today, and sort of remember what makes this country great and remember all the people that made the ultimate sacrifice for it.”

The Condor Squadron and the Van Nuys Airport Association honored local veterans by performing formation flyovers and launching a virtual Van Nuys Airport veterans honor wall.

The flyovers are a yearly tradition for the squadron. They entertain millions of Southern Californians, which is something they hold close to their heart.

“It’s an honor and a privilege for me,” Sandberg said. “I’ve been doing this since 2008 with these guys, and my father and grandfather served and they were pilots, and so it was very special to me to be able to fly these airplanes in remembrance and honor of everyone’s sacrifice to the country.”

The group of North American Aviation T-6 Texan aircraft departed from Van Nuys Airport on Tuesday and flew to Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Calabasas and the Starlight Bowl.

The virtual veterans honor wall can be visited at

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