World War II planes on display in Wall

     The B-17 Flying Fortress at the 2012

    The B-17 Flying Fortress at the 2012 "Wings of Freedom" event at the Monmouth Executive Airport. (Photo: Mike Black Photography)

    It’s your chance to enjoy a rare historical experience. 

    The Collings Foundation’s 24th annual “Wings of Freedom” tour has returned to Monmouth Executive Airport in Wall, featuring tours and flights on World World II-era aircraft. 

    The “authentically restored” planes on display include the B-17, B-24, and P-51, according to the foundation. 

    Beachgoers from southern Monmouth County to South Seaside Park have been dazzled by the historic planes flying overhead.

    Mike Brennan of South Seaside Park says seeing the B-17 from his beach chair yesterday was “awesome.”

    Mike Black, a local photographer, teacher, and military historian who lives near the Wall airport, tells NewsWorks that the Wings of Freedom event is unique.

    “The B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the iconic images of World War II. These are extremely rare flying musuems, and you can walk through and even fly in them. They were built by the thousands to rain bombs over German-occupied Europe, and they bombed factories to slow and halt production of the Nazi war machine, even after suffering heavy damage from enemy fire,” he says. 

    The Flying Fortress, dubbed as such because of its firepower onboard, changed the course of the war.

    But there was a significant cost, with some missions losing 20 percent of the airplanes, Black says. 

    The P-51 Mustang Fighter is also historically significant as being the first long range high speed fighter, escorting B-17 and B-24 jets during their bombing runs, according to Black. 

    “The planes changed history in a real way,” he says. “Today there are only about a dozen B-17s flying in the world, and the B-24 ‘Witchcraft’ is the only one still flying. The last one.”

    IF YOU GO

    No reservations are needed for aircraft walk through tours today (until 5:00 p.m.) and Monday (10 a.m. until noon).

    Aircraft walk through tours are $12 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under. There is no charge for WW-II veterans.

    Flights occur before and after tours. Donations are $425 per person aboard the B-17 or B-24. Call 978-562-9182 for flight reservations.

    Flight training in the TP-51C “Betty Jane” will be at most locations on the Wings of Freedom Tour. Flight training in the P-51 is $2200 for a half hour flight, and $3200 for a full hour. All participants will get the chance to feel what it was like to fly one of the most legendary fighters of WW-II.

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