Vintage planes flying in for sky time, tours

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some of the world’s remaining flying machines from World War II will be on display at Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport starting March 1.

If you go

The Wings of Freedom Tour, featuring three vintage World War II fighter planes, will take place at the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport at Mound from 2 p.m. March 1 to noon March 3. Tours will be from 2 to 4:30 p.m. March 1; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 2; and 9 a.m. to noon March 3. Cost is $425 to tour, and, to fly, $2,200 for 30 minutes or $3,200 for 60 minutes. To reserve a flight or for other information, contact The Collings Foundation at 800-568-8924.  

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The B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine,” Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” and the North American P-51 Mustang “Betty Jane” will fly into VTR as part of the 26-city Wings of Freedom Tour organized by The Collings Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes history events involving transportation.

Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children younger than 12. Visitors may explore the inside and outside of each vintage jet, plus fly aboard the vintage B-17 or B-24 for $425 a person. Pilots can fly the P-51 for $2,200 for 30 minutes or $3,200 for 60 minutes. Fees will serve as donations to the foundation and are tax deductible. The planes are expected to fly in from a previous tour stop in New Orleans by 2 p.m. March 1. They will be at VTR until they depart at noon March 3 for a stop in Monroe.

“It’s a very unique, very rare living-history tour,” said Hunter Chaney of The Collings Foundation. “It’ll be a lesson that appeals to all the senses. It’s a neat way to teach people about history.”

Each plane has been restored to its original configurations from World War II. The B-17 is among only nine in flying condition in the United States, while the B-24 and B-51 Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type in the world. All were instrumental for the U.S. Army Air Corps, a forerunner of the U.S. Air Force, during the war. The planes are rare because many planes were used for scrap aluminum in later years.

“We very rarely get to see and touch these old birds,” said VTR general manager Randy Woods. “They’re just not that many flying.”

The Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation was established in 1979 and began with hill climbs and carriage-and-sleigh rides. Since 1989, the Wings of Freedom Tour has become the organization’s major event, making nearly 2,200 stops in the United States.

Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at