Chilly Monday morning weather did little to dampen the excitement of the aircraft aficionados who gathered for the first day of the Wings of Freedom Tour at Denton Enterprise Airport.
The 24-year-old event sponsored by the Collings Foundation flies around the country, giving people young and old a chance to get up close and personal with aircraft that were integral to the history of this country.
“I think it’s a marvelous event. I am surprised there aren’t more people here,” Glenn Hutchinson said as he waited for the arrival of the aircraft. “I’m a history buff, so anything older than yesterday I like to take a look at.”
The stars of the show, the World War II-era Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator, North American P-51 Mustang and Messerschmitt Me-262 jet replica made it to Denton at about 1:30 p.m. The crowd grew to about 50 people by the time the planes arrived. The pilots performed a few flyovers as people on the ground snapped pictures with their phones and cameras, before landing. Already on the ground was a Bell UH-1E “Huey” helicopter.
During the tour, people interested in flying in the planes will be able to purchase a ticket and do so. The prices varied for each trip. There were several people who had flown on the aircraft from Dallas Love Field to Denton. Among them was Steve Hightower, who is a sponsor of the B-17.
“We ride every year when they come to Love Field. My daughter and I have made a tradition of it,” he said after posing for pictures with his daughter and grandchild.
Hightower gave props to the Collings Foundation for putting on the tour and noted the historical importance of event.
“My daughter, she is very well attuned to what these are all about, what occurred, and you have a lot of veterans come out and everyone in between. It’s a great learning experience.”
Hightower also expressed great interest in the German Me 262. The jet on the tour is one of two flying replicas in the United States.
Also interested in that aircraft was Mike Stafford, whose background includes aircraft maintenance with the U.S. Air Force.
“I’ve never seen one up close before. It was one of the first jet fighters made, so I wanted to take a look at that,” he said. “It’s history. World War II airplanes — [the tour] is kind of a salute to our veterans to see what they flew and worked on in that era and the fact there are so few left.”
The tour remains in Denton through noon Wednesday.
The cost of getting inside the aircraft is $12 for adults and $6 for children younger than 12.
Visitors can take a ride aboard the rare aircraft. Costs vary based on the aircraft and the 30- or 60-minute flight options.
To make reservations or for more information, call 1-800-568-8924.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875.