The Wings of Freedom Tour gives people all over the United States a chance to get up close and personal with World War II history.
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator, the North American P-51 Mustang and one of ten flying Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses landed at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport Monday, kicking off the three-day tour. Spectators could also take a walk through the Caribou C-7, known for its flight during the war in Vietnam.
"We have been one of the leaders in aviation in the world for years," Private Pilot John Skaggs said. "And thanks to our Air Force we are now free. And if it had not been for our Air Force and Navy pilots, we might have a different kind of flag flying over us right now."
Veterans and pilots alike agreed the public should head to the airport and check out the different planes. Big, small and full of historical memories, the planes give people a glimpse into events that forever changed the face of America. Swastikas can be found on the side of the P-51, making known how many Nazi planes were shot down by the American aircraft.
"As time goes on, there's more and more tendency to forget what happened years ago," Maj. Gen. Bob Dempsey stated. "Well, it's important to know where you came from, how you got there and what those who went before you did to enable you to do what you're doing today- be free."
Not only history can be learned by visiting the historical planes, but also the advancement of technology over the past 70 years.
"The difference between Wilbur and Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk and what's happening today- the shuttle program, Rick Husband, you know, Buzz Aldrin, the moon- it's just hard to describe the progress," Maj. Gen. Dempsey said. "It's unbelievable."
The aircraft will be on display at TAC Air at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport until noon on Wednesday, April 11. Ground tours are from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Wednesday. Tour prices are $12 for adults, $6 for children under the age of 12 and free for WWII veterans. Flights aboard the aircraft are also available. Flights on the B-17 or B-24 are $425 per person. Stick time in the P-51 fighter is $2,200 for 30 minutes and $3,200 for one hour. Flight tours are scheduled around the ground tours. Contact The Collings Foundation to make a flight reservation.