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Beyond Geek Web Extra: Wings of Freedom Tour

Web Extra

The Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour gives you the opportunity to see these magnificent planes from WWII up close. Armed with a group of volunteers, they travel the country with a restored B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, the B-25 Mitchell, and P-51 Mustang.

My name is Fred Lewis. I’m the B-25 pilot for the Collins Foundation, and I’m a volunteer, like many of us out here, that fly these planes around the United States. The Wings of Freedom Tour started back about 1989 is when it really started, and it was with two aircraft on B-17, the B-24. The foundation’s mindset at that time was to try to make a living museum.

Do you want to shoot?

I think it’s one thing to go to a museum and maybe see a bald eagle, you know, stuffed bald eagle hanging on the wall. But to go down the Mississippi River and see a bald eagle flying. That’s a whole different aspect. That’s what we try to portray here. A living museum is to hear the engines and see what they sound like.

Watch the planes fly.

I think everybody watching the movies gets the feeling of these aircraft are huge. And the first comment coming out is, oh, I thought they were bigger.

I got in there and I had to struggle and shove and push and I finally got through.

It really allows people to try to understand from a practical experience what may be the kids went through that through these things. And I say kids in real terms. These guys were 19, 20, 21 years old and I know what I was doing at 21 years old. It was not flying in combat.

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