See WWII era planes at two airports
By Jessica Tuggle
TREASURE COAST -- The Stuart and Vero Beach airports haven't found the secret of bending time, but they have partnered with a nonprofit that wants the current generation to remember and learn about the past.
A restored fighter plane and two bomber planes used in World War II history will be on display at Witham Field and Vero Beach Municipal Airport for a special "living history" aviation event.
The cities are part of a 110-city Wings of Freedom tour produced by the nonprofit Collings Foundation and visitors to the airports can see, experience, and even fly in, a restored plane that carried out wartime missions more than half a century ago.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine" WWII heavy bomber, the consolidated B-24 Liberator "Witchcraft" WWII heavy bomber, and the P-51C Mustang fighter will fly into Vero Beach on Feb. 13 and fly out on Feb. 15, and members of the public are invited to come out and be educated about the rare planes and their history, said Hunter Chaney, director of marketing for the Collings Foundation.
"These are arguably the greatest aircraft in history," Mr. Chaney said.
The planes will touchdown for a brief respite from Feb. 11 through Feb. 13 at Galaxy Aviation, one of the fixed base operators at Witham Field, and will park at Sun Aviation at Vero Beach Municipal Airport, from Feb. 13 through Feb. 15.
Tickets to the event are $12 for adults and $6 for children younger than 12. WWII veterans can tour the aircraft at no cost, Mr. Chaney said.
Discounted rates are available for school groups.
Tour times in Stuart are available from noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 11; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 12; and 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 13. The planes are expected to take off to their next city location, Vero Beach, after 12 p.m.
Tour times in Vero Beach are available from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 13; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 14; and 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 15. The planes are expected to take off to their next city location after 12 p.m.
The B-17 plane is one of only eight planes of its kind still flying in the U.S., and the B-24 and the P-51C Mustang, a full dual control model, are the only remaining examples of their type flying in the world, a press release said.
After the war, many of the planes were scrapped for their raw aluminum, so there aren't many examples left accessible to people to see, Mr. Chaney said.
The Collings Foundation's mission is organizing living history events in order for people to learn about history and heritage in a more hands-on and active approach, ultimately heightening the experience and potentially creating a love and interest in learning more, Mr. Chaney said.
"It's one of the finest examples of edu-tainment out there," he said.
Tickets to fly in the aircraft, and even to fly one of them are also available.
Flights on either the B-17 or the B024 are $425 per person for approximately a half-hour experience. The opportunity to fly the P-51 is available for $2,200 for a half-hour, or $3,200 for a full hour. Flights take place before and after tours.
For flight reservations, call (800) 568-8924. For more information about Wings of Freedom or the Collings Foundation, visit www.collingsfoundation.org.