WWII Planes Target Valparaiso

Half a century after their presence was commonplace in the skies over America, the mighty B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator and P-51 Mustang have embarked on a new mission quite a bit different than those they flew during World War II; their payload in 2009 is history and remembrance of our veterans.

The non-profit Collings Foundation had the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress and the world's only flying Consolidated B-24J Liberator and dual-control P-51C Mustang flying over Valparaiso, IN at the Porter County Municipal Airport this summer as part of the nationwide Wings of Freedom Tour. These two four-engine strategic bombers and single-engine escort fighter aircraft were the backbone of American airpower during WWII and truly turned the tide of the war as they fought in both the European and Pacific theaters of operation. Neglected for many years after the war, and forgotten by many, they were restored by the Collings Foundation of Stow, MA to their pristine wartime condition to serve as living history displays as they tour to over 110 cities nationwide.

While on location in Valparaiso, visitors were allowed and encouraged to explore through each aircraft and see what it must have been like to crew these aircraft during WWII (to see a video of the planes and what visitors had to say, click here). The B-17, B-24 and P-51 are restored to very high standards and are equipped exactly as they were in 1944. Local veterans were encouraged to attend and discuss their experiences during the war to educate future generations about their role in the most pivotal conflict in modern times. ValpoLife also had the unique opportunity to fly aboard the B-17, B-24 and P-51 as part of the "flight experience" program (to see a video of Riding in the WWII Plane, click here). These local "missions" gave guests the chance to see what it was like to fly in these rare warplanes and to explore the different crew positions while in flight.

Visit the Foundation's website at www.cfdn.org for more information.