This article was written several days before the tragic October 2nd 2019 crash of “909”, with injuries and loss of life. My heart goes out to the families and friends dealing with this loss. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
One warbird on the ramp is enough to stop most people in their tracks. Four or more warbirds at a “Wings of Freedom Tour” draws a crowd. On this beautiful Saturday, I was at Nashua, New Hampshire’s Boire Field to see these still-flying warbirds, along with a crowd! These aircraft are owned by the Collings Foundation and in 2019 they were visiting over 100 cities, making a big clockwise loop around the US:
- B-17 Flying Fortress
- B-24 Liberator
- B-25 Mitchell
- TF-51D Mustang (trainer version)
- TP-40N Tomahawk (trainer version)
- Douglas Skyraider
For a very reasonable fee, they allowed everyone to take a “walking tour” through the B-17 and B-24. Actually more of a step-careful-and-work-yourself-around-the-interior adventure, it gave me a wonderful look at the place these flight crews called home for every mission.
On the perimeter of the ramp, there were tables set up to display the flight gear the crews wore. I noted the very heavily lined flight jackets, flight suits, and thick long gloves. I knew why but never realized how real it was until seeing everything close up. The gaps in the tail gunner position between surfaces told the whole story. Cold. At altitude, it is very very cold and that cold air penetrated the crew area easily.
One of the unique configurations there was trainer versions of both the P-51 and P-40.
It’s quite apparent that pilots had to (and still do) get flight training somehow, and there are a number of flying P-40s out there. Same for the P-51. To see flying training variants of both these aircraft in one place was pretty special.
Video from "Wings of Freedom Tour" at KASH
Related Items of Interest - Wings of Freedom Tour
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- If you love movies or books about these aircraft, you may remember “Twelve O’Clock High” with Gregory Peck, which centered on the B-17. It was a movie first and then a popular TV series.
The P-51’s “Cadillac of the skies” title came from the movie “Empire of the Sun” and featured some nice Mustang flying. It’s a pretty heavy movie with a lot of the drama and pain of World War 2, but well done by Steven Spielberg and stars Christian Bale in a very early career role.
Aircraft Models: There are some really nice military (and other) aircraft display models at
This was such a great learning experience and fine day of aviation fun. If you ever get a chance to take in a Wings of Freedom Tour, you really ought to. It’s events like this that keep those old birds flying and help us remember why we can enjoy America’s freedoms.
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THANK YOU WORLD WAR 2 VETERANS
WE OWE YOU, AND ALL VETERANS SINCE THEN, SO MUCH!