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‘Wings of Freedom’ coming to peninsula
Take a step back in time with the “Wings of Freedom Tour” event, set for June 17-19 in Port Angeles, with a trio of rare warbirds making their semi-annual visit to the Olympic Peninsula.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine 0 Nine” World War II Heavy Bomber, the Consolidated B-24J Liberator “Witchcraft” World War II heavy bomber and the P-51 Mustang fighter fly into William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles.
The B-17 is one of only eight in flying condition in the United States, and the B-24J Liberator and Full Dual Control P-51C Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the world.
Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out: $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12 is requested for access to up-close viewing and tours through the inside of the aircraft. World War II veterans can tour through the aircraft at no charge. Discounted rates for school groups.
Visitors also may experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft. Flights on either the B-17 or B-24 are $425 per person while P-51 flights are $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour.
For reservations and information about flight experiences, call 800-568-8924.
Alan Barnard of Port Angeles is the stop coordinator for the event. “It’s like blinking your eyes and waking up in another place, like it’s the ‘Twilight Zone,’” Barnard said of first setting eyes on the vintage planes. “It feels like a time warp.”
The goal of the tour is twofold: to honor the sacrifices made by veterans and to educate visitors (especially young Americans) about national history and heritage.
“This is to acknowledge the sacrifice of veterans and to educate young people … that freedom isn’t free, that sacrifices were made over the years, to give young people a perspective,” Barnard said.
As far as the warbirds go, Barnard said, all three attract plenty of attention.
“The B-17, that’s the most recognizable,” Barnard said. “Most people have heard of them. The B-17 always kind of looks to be the headliner (but) when people come out they want to look at all of them.”
Barnard said flight spots are filling up already, including a pair of brothers taking their father on a flight and a surprise flight for a young teen flight enthusiast.
The Collings Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational foundation, began these tours in 1989. Call 800-568-8924 or see www.collingsfoundation.org for more information.