History will come to life as the “Wings of Freedom” tour comes to the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport next week, bringing vintage bombers and other airplanes for display and flight tours.
The tour will be held Monday through Thursday, said spokesman Hunter Chaney, marketing director for the Collings Foundation, which brings the event to airports around the country.
War-era planes featured include the B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine," Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft,” B-25 Mitchell "Tondelayo" bombers and P-51 Mustang "Toulouse Nuts" fighter, he said.
Not only veterans, but their families and others with an interest in history will enjoy the rare opportunity to visit, explore and learn more about these “unique and rare treasures of aviation history,” he said.
The B-17 is one of only eight in flying condition in the United States, and the B-24 is the sole remaining example of its type flying in the world. The B-25 is best known for being used in the daring Doolittle Raid. The P-51 Mustang was just awarded Grand Champion for restoration at EAA Oshkosh AirVenture, he said.
The Wings of Freedom Tour is far more than just another historical event, Chaney said. It brings to life the memories of World War II veterans and gives others a glimpse into the past.
“The interactive memorial means a lot of different things to each and every veteran,” he told the Statesboro Herald. “Guys who flew in the planes remember it like it was yesterday. It is a way to connect.”
Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out and may also take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft.
The tour costs $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. The tours offer access to up-close viewing and tours through the inside of the aircraft, with discounted rates for school groups.
Visitors’ flights on either the B-17 or B-24 are $450 per person; P-51 flight training is $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour. B-25 flights are $400 per person. Chaney said
The tour is nostalgic and educational. “It takes on a whole different meaning that just an old airplane,” he said. “The tour pulls out some very deep emotions and creates very personal responses” from veterans.
The Wings of Freedom Tour will arrive at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport at at noon on Monday and remain on display until the aircraft departs after operations next Thursday.
Hours of ground tours and display are from noon to 4 p.m. Monday; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday.
The 30-minute flight experiences are normally scheduled before and after the ground tour times above.
The Collings Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit educational foundation devoted to organizing “living history” events that allows people to learn more about their heritage and history through direct participation.
The Wings of Freedom tour is celebrating its 28th year and visits an average of 110 cities in 35 states annually, Chaney said. It “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.”
For more information, go to www.collingsfoundation.org or call Chaney at (800) 568-8924 for reservations and information on flight experiences.