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Rare WWII aircraft displayed at Bolton Field
|Messenger photos by Tara Figurski
Jeff Ford and grandson, Isaiah Dalton, take a stroll through the Wings of Freedom Tour at Bolton Field on Aug. 10-12. Residents got the chance to take an up close and personal look at vintage WWII aircraft like the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, and the North American P-51 Mustang. Columbus was one of the 110 cities chosen for the display.
The Wings of Freedom Tour appealed to veterans who came to reminisce about World War II and to visitors interested in getting a glimpse of a historical aircraft.
The nationwide tour visited Bolton Field Aug. 10-12 providing visitors a rare opportunity to see a vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator and the North American P-51 Mustang.
The B-17 is one of only 10 in flying condition in the United States and the B-24 and P-51 Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the world, according to the Collings Foundation.
The foundation is devoted to organizing living history events that allow people to learn more about their heritage. In its 22nd year the tour visits an average of 110 cities in 35 states annually, organizers said.
Collings Foundation director of marketing Hunter Chaney said about 2,000 people visited Bolton Field to see the planes during the three days.
“You immediately recognize it is not like an air show,” Chaney said. “It’s a much more, pretty relaxed, living history event. These are probably three of the most iconic and well known aircraft of World War II.”
World War II veteran Paul Hough, who served in the Army Signal Corps from 1943 to 1946, said he likes to visit air shows for the nostalgia, to bring back memories and to relive the past.
“I come out every time they fly in,” Hough said. “I had great respect for those who flew. I am fascinated with the planes. This is really great.”
Charles Fleming paid to ride the B-24 during the tour. His uncle was a crew chief on the plane during World War II. He visited the air show the day before his flight to get a better look at the plane.
“My uncle was a crew chief on one of these in China,” Fleming said. “He was my hero.”
Fleming said his uncle, Charles Lane, used to send letters to Fleming’s school about his war experiences. His teacher would have him read the letters in front of his classmates.
“When he got back he continued to tell stories about where he lived,” Fleming said. “One of the biggest problems was not having enough to eat.”
David Harrigill visited the airshow to honor his father William Harrigill, a World War II pilot.
“He’s not here anymore,” Harrigill said. “He went on 28 missions. His last mission was a supply drop.”
During one of William Harrigill’s missions he was flying low and his plane was damaged. He ended up with a piece of shrapnel the size of a dime embedded in his thigh, Harrigill said. Removing the shrapnel would have put an end to his service so he left the piece of plane in his leg.
Tour visitor Herb Scholes said it was fantastic to think about some of the history the planes were involved with. He attended the tour last year and brought his wife Beth this year to show her what he was so excited about.
“All three of them are fantastic planes to see,” Scholes said. “I have the greatest respect for those who flew (planes).”
Twelve-year-old Trevor Turelle was looking forward to riding in the P-51 Mustang. His step dad, Jim Walton said Turelle is enthusiastic about World War II era planes and war history and took a ride in a Piper Vagabond earlier this year.
“I like the (P-51) design,” Turelle said. “I want to shoot things.”
Casey Rozell has been flying the P-51 Mustang for the Wings of Freedom Tour since March and has had an interest in airplanes since he was a child.
“I enjoying showing people,” Rozell said. “It’s important to see, smell, and feel history.”
A pilot gears up the B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” heavy bomber. This is the only B-24 in the world that can still safely fly.
The haul of the P-51 Mustang, the last of its kind, shimmers on a bright summer day.
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