Local

Apr 15, 2011 1:53 PM

3 rare WWII-era planes on display in Marana

MARANA - Three World War 2-era planes will be flying into the Marana Regional Airport today as part of a three-day "Wings of Freedom" tour, honoring veterans and revisiting an important time in aviation history.

The tour features the iconic B-17 Flying Fortress, the legendary P-51 Mustang, and the only fully restored and flying B-24J Liberator, according to a release from the Collings Foundation. All three are extremely rare: The B-17 is one of only 11 in flying condition in the U.S., and the B-24J and the P51C are the sole remaining models in the world that still fly.

The non-profit Collings Foundation is an education foundation devoted to organizing "living history" events, allowing people to experience their heritage and history through direct participation, the release states.

The Colliings Foundation says that the Wings of Freedom Tour is: "a flying tribute to the flight crews who flew them, the ground crews who maintained them, the workers who built them, the soldiers, sailors and airmen they helped protect; and the citizens and families that share the freedom that they helped preserve."

The foundation also provides some historical context on the aircraft to be displayed:

"The B-17 & B-24 were the backbone of the American effort during the war from 1942 to 1945 and were famous for their ability to sustain damage and still accomplish the mission. Despite the risks of anti-aircraft fire, attacking enemy fighters, and the harrowing environment of sub-zero temperatures, many B-17s and B-24s safely brought their crews home. The P-51 Mustang was affectionately known as the bombers "Little Friend" - saving countless crews from attacking axis fighters."

Local veterans are encouraged to attend and share their experiences with the public, and visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out - $12 is requested for adults, $6 for children, and WWII Veterans can tour the aircraft for free.

For $425, Visitors can take a 30-minute flight aboard either the B-17 or B-24, and pilots can even get some "stick time" with the rare aircraft - flights run $2,200 for half an hour, and $3,200 for a full hour.
The Wings of Freedom Tour arrives at Marana Regional Airprt, 11700 W. Avra Valley Rd., at 2 p.m. today - tours will be available until 5 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, tours will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Monday, tours will go from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more information on the Wings of Freedom Tour, visit:
http://www.collingsfoundation.org

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