Wings of Freedom flies in Monday

WILLIAMSTOWN – The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport next week will host the Wings of Freedom Tour, an opportunity to learn about three World War II aircraft.

The exhibit includes a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber, a consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber and a P-51 Mustang fighter plane. The planes are expected to arrive at the airport around noon on Monday and leave around noon Wednesday.

“They apparently had a cancellation on the tour and asked if they could come here,” said airport manager Jeff McDougle. “We are very excited they chose our airport and can’t wait to see them here.”

The planes will stop at Mid-Ohio Valley after leaving Lexington, Ky., and before heading to Morgantown.

Following their arrival Monday, the planes will be available for tours from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday.

“This is a rare opportunity to visit, explore and learn more about these unique and rare treasures of aviation history,” according to the Collings Foundation, which sponsors the tour. “The B-17 is one of only eight in flying condition in the United States, the B-24J and Full Dual Control P-51C Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the world.”

The B-17 and B-24 were the backbone of the American war effort from 1942 to 1945 and were famous for the ability to sustain damage, yet accomplish the mission, according to the Wings of Freedom Tour website, collingsfoundation.org. The P-51 Mustang was known as the bombers’ “Little Friend,” saving countless crews from attacking fighters.

Following the war, most aircraft were scrapped for the aluminum to rebuild the nation, therefore very few were spared.

This rarity is why these planes are part of the Wings of Freedom Tour.

During the stop, visitors are encouraged to explore the aircraft inside and out with access to up-close views and tours of the inside of the planes.

The Wings of Freedom Tour is in its 25th year, visiting 110 communities in more than 35 states each year. The three planes travel the country as a flying tribute to the crews who flew them, the ground crews who maintained them, workers who built them, soldiers, sailors and airmen they helped protect; and the citizens and families that share the freedom that they helped preserve.

“Having the Wings of Freedom Tour at our facility is a little like having our own mini airshow,” McDougle said.

The Collings Foundation is a non-profit educational foundation devoted to organizing living history events to learn more about their heritage and history through direct participation.

The cost is $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12. WWII veterans can tour the aircraft at no cost.

Discounted rates will be available for school groups.

Those who would like to experience a 30-minute flight can do so at an added cost; flights on either the B-17 or B-24 are $450 per person. Flight training on the P-51 are $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour.

To make reservations or for more information, call 1-800-568-8924 or (978) 562-9182.