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Collings Foundation

Wings of Freedom Tour begins Monday in Denton

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

The Wings of Freedom Tour is flying into the Denton Enterprise Airport on Monday through Wednesday.

The event will begin at noon and aircraft will be on display at Business Air, 5007 Airport Road, until they take to the skies at noon Wednesday for their next stop on the tour.

The tour, in its 24th year, is sponsored by the Collings Foundation and travels the nation as a flying tribute to the flight crews who flew them, the ground crews who maintained them, the workers who built them, the soldiers, sailors and airmen they helped protect, as well as the citizens and families who share the freedom that they helped preserve.

“Year after year, we find there is still such a unique presentation to these aircraft, a unique interaction with history,” said Hunter Chaney, director of marketing for the Collings Foundation.

He noted that people may remember things from history lessons on World War II, but getting up close to the aircraft, being able to touch them, crawl through them, those are experiences that will never be forgotten.

Quentin Hix, director of aviation for the city of Denton, said there’s excitement in the air at the return of the tour, which was last in Denton in March 2008.

“We have a museum on the airport [grounds] — Hanger 10 — that has vintage craft, some that are operational, but we’re excited to have Collings come in with their operable aircraft,” Hix said. “And we just opened a new 90,000-square-foot ramp area. We have more space for staging aircraft. We’re excited about someone coming in this quickly to take advantage of it.”

Those who come out to the event will be able to get up close and personal with the WWII Vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator and North American P-51, German Me 262 jet fighter and Bell UH-1E “Huey” helicopter.

The B-24 is the last flying craft of its kind, Chaney said.

He said event officials were particularly excited about the recently completed replica of the German Me 262 fighter.

“During World War II, the Germans were the first to develop a fully operational jet-powered fighter craft. It really set the precedent for all of modern jet aviation design — all of the designs we still see today,” he said.

Chaney said the event is honoring Vietnam veterans with the Huey helicopter. Medal of Honor recipient Stephen Pless originally flew the particular one that will be a part of this tour stop.

“He saved a lot of lives in that aircraft,” Chaney said.

He said the tour likely would appeal to folks who aren’t particularly interested in aviation.

“We see a lot of people from all walks of life who will come out and see these aircraft. It’s not at all a static display,” he said. “When it comes to World War II history specifically, it’s so vitally important we remember this time in history. These aircraft act as a vehicle to engage people in history and excite them to want to learn more and that definitely holds its worth with the tour.”

The cost of getting inside the aircraft is $12 for adults and $6 for children younger than 12.

Visitors can also take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft.

Costs vary based on the aircraft and the 30-minute or 60-minute flight time options.

To make reservations or for more information, call 1-800-568-8924.

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is blewis@dentonrc.com .