Arts & Entertainment

Wings of Freedom Tour flying in Monday

The Wings of Freedom Tour will visit the Tri-Cities next week for an exhibition that features a living history of some of World War II's most important aircraft.

On hand will be a selection of heavy bombers used during the war.

They include the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress named Nine O Nine and the B-24 Liberator called Witchcraft. The tour also includes the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber and the P-51 Mustang fighter plane.

All the historic planes will arrive in the Tri-Cities Airport about 2 p.m. Monday at Bergstrom Aircraft at the airport.

Visitors can board the planes for a peak inside from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday.

Tours cost $12 for adults or $6 for kids 12 and younger.

If you're brave enough to take flight in one of the planes, the cost is $425 on either the B-17 or B-24.

Flights on the B-25 are $400 in the front fuselage area of the plane and $325 for the waist gun section of the plane.

P-51 flights are $2,200 for a half-hour ride and $3,200 for an hour. For reservations, call 800-568-8924.

The Wings of Freedom Tour has visited 110 cities in about 35 states annually for 19 years. Its purpose is to give civilians a chance to see war planes up close and to pay tribute to the flight crews who manned them, the workers who built them and the soldiers, sailors and airmen who helped protect them.

The planes were in service from 1942 to 1945 and were built to sustain damage during attacks and to withstand subzero temperatures.

One example of the importance these planes played in winning the war was the role of the P-51 Mustang, which was referred to as the "Little Friend" fighter. It was instrumental in saving many bomber crew members' lives by battling off attacking enemy fighters.

After World War II, however, few of these planes were spared from being scrapped for their raw aluminum, which was in demand after the war.

The Collins Foundation, which sponsors the tour, gathered the few left for posterity because of the important role they played for freedom.

More information about the exhibition is available at www.collingsfoundation.org.

* Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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