Thu, Oct 18, 2012
'Wings Of Freedom' Tour Allows Public To View WWII Airplanes Up Close
On Friday, October 26th, the “Wings of Freedom Tour” will land at the Greenville Downtown Airport in South Carolina. They will depart on Sunday, October 28th. This is a rare opportunity to visit, explore, and learn more about these unique and rare treasures of our aviation history.
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” WWII Heavy Bomber and North American P-51C Mustang “Betty Jane” are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the World. The vintage Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” is one of only 11 in flying condition in the United States.
"These historic planes are quite rare and we are lucky that they have chosen to come to Greenville,” stated Tim Bishop, Director of Museum Development for the Upcountry History Museum. “We had asked if they could come as part of our museum’s upcoming Veterans Tribute Weekend and we were told that it wasn’t possible. So we said when CAN you come?” joked Bishop. “After many back and forth communications they said how about October 26th – 28th and of course we said GREAT!” Bishop added.
The B-17 & B-24 were the backbone of the American effort during the war from 1942 to 1945 and were famous for their ability to sustain damage and still accomplish the mission. Despite the risks of anti-aircraft fire, attacking enemy fighters and the harrowing environment of sub-zero temperatures, many B-17s and B-24s safely brought their crews home.
The P-51 Mustang was affectionately known as the bombers “Little Friend” – saving countless crews from attacking Axis fighters. After the war, many aircraft were scrapped for their raw aluminum to rebuild a nation in post-war prosperity and therefore very few were spared. The rarity of the B-17, B-24 & P-51 and their importance to telling the story of WWII is why the Collings Foundation continues to fly and display the aircraft nationwide. For aviation enthusiasts, the tour provides opportunity for the museum to come to the visitor and not the other way around!
“I am constantly asked when historic planes will come again to the Greenville Downtown Airport.” said Joe Frasher, the Airport’s Director. “Visits by planes like these are very popular. They don’t happen very often because not many of these planes are still flying and the ones that are left are in very high demand to visit places all over the U.S.,” Frasher added.
The “Wings of Freedom Tour” travels the nation as a flying tribute to the flight crews who flew them, the ground crews who maintained them, the workers who built them, the soldiers, sailors and airmen they helped protect; and the citizens and families that share the freedom that they helped preserve.
“This visit is especially important because our WWII vets are getting well into their 90s, so time is of the essence if we want them to be able to see these planes that were so important to their service,” stated Paul Howell, Director of Honor Flight Upstate South Carolina. “Our mission usually is to show our honor and support to these heroes by offering a program that flies our World War II veterans to Washington, DC, to see the memorial built in their honor, and to experience recognition for their service that literally saved the world. Now we have the opportunity to bring a bit of their history to them. This is a further extension of our community's way of saying thank you to our heroes. I know our local veterans and the whole community will love seeing these historic flying machines so close to home!” Howell said.
“The Collings Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that exists solely to keep these planes flying. Parts are expensive because they are hard to find or make. It cost about $4,000 an hour just to run the planes,” stated Hunter Chaney, Marketing Director of the Collings Foundation. “The ‘donations’ for ground tours and flights enable us to keep our aviation history flying,” added Chaney.
Access to all three aircraft that includes walk through tours are just $12 for adults, and $6 for children 12 and under. WWII Veterans get into the ground tours at no charge.
No reservations are needed and the walk through tour times are:
- Friday, October 26 1200-1630
- Saturday, October 27 0900-1630
- Sunday, October 28 0900-1630
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