Famous ‘Berlin Express’ plane lands at Dunkirk Airport

A replica of the historic "Berlin Express" P-51 Mustang flew into the Dunkirk Airport earlier this week.

SHERIDAN — Sometimes history seems made for the movies. The story of the “Berlin Express” is one of those legendary tales where World War II American pilot Bill Overstreet flew his P-51 Mustang under the Eiffel Tower in Paris in hot pursuit of a German fighter, downed the plane and escaped under heavy fire with his plane intact.

Although that story hasn’t made it to the big screen yet, a replica of this original craft can be seen in air shows around the world performing aerobatic stunts. The Berlin Express will not be seen in this weekend’s Dunkirk-Lake Shore Air Show, but the historic plane stopped by the Dunkirk Airport earlier this week on its way to the Flying Legends Air Show in Duxford, England.

The Flying Legends Air Show will also see a Dunkirk connection; local pilot Louis Horschel will fly in formation with the Berlin Express’ pilot Lee Lauderback and another P-51 pilot in a performance called “The Horsemen.”

Horschel, a Springville native, stores his planes at the Dunkirk Airport and has long-standing connections with the local airport.

“I flew in the Dunkirk Air Show last year,” he said, “but this year, this opportunity came up, so we’ll be in the U.K. during this year’s show. This will be me and my wife’s first time in the U.K. and it seemed like a wonderful adventure.”

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino: The pilot of a Berlin Express P-51 Mustang replica, Lee Lauderback (center), will be flying with local pilot Louis Horschel (right) in an air show in Duxford, England. Friend and unexpected P-51 Mustang escort pilot Ed Shipley is also pictured after the planes landed at the Dunkirk Airport earlier this week.

The Berlin Express and its “chase plane” full of crew and cargo left Texas early Wednesday and arrived in Dunkirk around 6 p.m. Unexpectedly, the Berlin Express was also escorted in by friend Ed Shipley’s P-51 Mustang, based out of Philadelphia.

“We have five stops,” Lauderback explained. “It’s a long trip over the North Atlantic, over 5,000 miles, but we got 1,500 of those out of the way today.”

The planes left Dunkirk Thursday for the next stops in Bangor, Maine; Goose Bay, Canada; Narsarsuaq, Greenland; Keflavik, Iceland; and Wick, Scotland before arriving at the Duxford Airfield on July 4.