The Wings of Freedom Tour, featuring vintage aircraft including a B-24, and P-51, will land at Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) in South Carolina Oct. 17.
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” WWII Heavy Bomber, P-51 Mustang Fighter and B-17 “Nine O Nine” will be at GMU through Oct. 20.
“The challenge that we face, particularly now as we are losing the generation of those who fought in the war, is how do we engage the younger generations in history, not only as a means to better understand history, but also as motivation to learn more. Touring through and learning more about these aircraft is far more effective than sitting in a classroom,” stated Hunter Chaney, director of marketing for the Collings Foundation.
“These historic planes are quite rare and we are lucky that they have chosen to come to Greenville,” stated Tim Bishop, Director of Museum Development for the Upcountry History Museum. “During WWII, Greenville Army Airbase (now SCTAC) was a training center for B-24 and B-25 aircraft and it will be an exciting opportunity to see a B-24 flying over Greenville again.”
The B-17 and 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.
After the war, many aircraft were scrapped for their raw aluminum to help rebuild a nation in post-war prosperity. Therefore, very few were spared. The rarity of the B-17 and B-24 and their importance to telling the story of WWII is why the Collings Foundation continues to fly and display the aircraft nationwide.
The “Wings of Freedom Tour” travels the nation as 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 Collings Foundation exists solely to keep these planes flying. Parts are expensive because they are hard to find or make. It costs about $4,000 an hour just to operate the planes. The donations for ground tours and flights enable us to keep these important aircraft of aviation history flying,” added Chaney.
Walk through tours of the aircraft are $12 for adults, and $6 for children 12 and under for access to all of the aircraft. WWII veterans get into the ground tours at no charge.
Walk Through Tour Times: (no reservations needed)
- Friday, Oct. 17, 2 to 5 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 18, 9 am to 5 pm
- Sunday, Oct. 19, 9 am to 5 pm
Thirty-minute fight experiences are held before and after the ground tours and cost $450 for air time in the B-17 or B-24. For the P-51, the cost is $2,200 for 30 minutes and $3,200 for one hour, which includes an opportunity to fly the plane.
The Collings Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit, so the majority of your flight experience is a tax-deductible contribution. For reservations and information on flight experiences, call 800-568-8924.
The planes will be next to the Runway Cafe and park, which is on the South Ramp of the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU), 21 Airport Road Ext., Greenville, SC 29607
For more information: CollingsFoundation.org