WWII planes set to land Monday at Mound

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport on Monday will be host to three remaining pieces of World War II history when three planes integral in the Allied victory will be on display.

A B-24J Liberator, the only fully restored and flying plane of its kind, is scheduled to land at 2 p.m. along with a B-17 bomber and a P-51 long-range support aircraft.

Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children younger than 12. Rides in either the B-17 and B-24 are $425. Pilots can fly the P-51 for 30 minutes for $2,200, and $3,200 for 60 minutes.

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The three-day event at the airport at Mound is the eighth stop in a 27-city tour during the 21st Wings of Freedom Tour sponsored by the Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation.

The Collings Foundation, a nonprofit educational group, was founded in 1979 as a way to support and enhance “living history” events. The tour is designed to honor World War II veterans and to educate visitors, especially younger Americans.

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

Tours will be offered, as will opportunities to fly in or pilot the aircraft. Aircraft tours are scheduled from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday. The planes will travel from New Orleans on Monday, and the arrival time at VTR is an educated estimate.

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 P-51 Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type in the world. All were instrumental during the war for the U.S. Army Air Corps, a forerunner to the U.S. Air Force. The planes are rare because many were used for scrap metal in later years.

Contact Sean P. Murphy at smurphy@vicksburgpost.com