• Wings Of Freedom Tour


    The WWII era was like nothing that has happened before or since. As horrible as it was, one side effect was a burst of technological advancements and that is clearly demonstrated in the area of aircraft. In less than a decade, aviation advanced from the last of the biplanes to the first jets.

    Aviation fans are usually fascinated by the many "warbirds" of this era, and we're fortunate to have many groups and individuals who restore and even fly many of these warbirds. One of the premier restoration groups is the Collings Foundation. Founded in 1979, they have grown over the years to preserve and exhibit a vast collection of aircraft, as well as other military vehicles and classic cars.

    I'm fortunate to have the Collings Foundation headquarters almost in my back yard and have even reported on some of the events held there, such as the Race Of The Century, an annual event that pits horses, cars and airplanes against each other in a variety of races.

    Wings Of Freedom Tour

    Unless you live near their base in Stow, Massachusetts (created as FS2004 scenery by John B. Loney, Jr.) you are most likely to have heard of the Collings Foundation due to their "Wings Of Freedom Tour". If you live in the U.S. you are likely to be close to one of their tour stops where they usually bring their B-17G Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine", their B-24J Liberator "Witchcraft", their B-25 Mitchell "Tondelayo" and their TF-51D Mustang "Toulouse Nuts". The touring aircraft may vary somewhat due to maintenance and other issues, but the bombers make up the core group.

    So, what's great about the tour is that not only do you get to see these historic aircraft up close, both inside and out should you choose, but there is actually the opportunity to fly in them. And that's what this story is about.

    1. highside7r's Avatar
      highside7r -
      Nice write up and I was one of those that took advantage of the tour for my early military retirement gift in March. Amazing experience and logged 1 hr of duel in a TF-51D! Time to work on getting tons of tailwheel time.
    1. pjtmcclure's Avatar
      pjtmcclure -
      Some people have all the luck !! Love these WW2 planes,, I am lucky enough to sim with the Maamsim B25 tho,,, and the B24, B29, and B17 I have also
      Enjoyed the write up Nels,,, take care
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      Yes, I admit I was fortunate to have this opportunity.

      Funny you should mention the MAAM Sim B-25, as that's the only other B-25 I've been inside of, though only while it was on the ground. I interviewed the design team in Reading some years ago:

    1. Roger Wensley's Avatar
      Roger Wensley -
      Nels, one of the highlights of joining Rockcliffe CYRO in Ottawa was that one member of the flying club, Mike, was busy assembling a collection of planes across the river at Gatineau, which became Vintage Wings of Canada in a purpose-built hangar. Then it was 1 Spitfire, 2 Hurricanes (which is why my pic on here shows me standing between a set of wings), 1 Mustang, 1 Harvard, 1 Swordfish, and several old but revered civilian planes. Since then Mike has added two more Spitfires, a Corsair, and a Sabre (though he swore he wouldn't buy anything he could not fly himself!) a Kittyhawk, a Lysander, and a Stearman. In the early days he was extraordinarily generous with access to the planes and it was a fascinating experience to find that I had spent hours longer than intended crawling all over them.
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      Hi Roger...That's a great experience, being involved with someone like that. What a great way to spend time with some great planes and fellow enthusiasts.

      Collings Foundation is interesting in much the same way. It literally operates from Bob Collings back yard...where he has a 3000 foot grass runway, a large hangar, a barn full of antique cars and soon a museum of military vehicles. I was just there Saturday for the annual WWII weekend open house and will have another report on that shortly.
    1. asos's Avatar
      asos -
      We need more articles like this.
    1. asos's Avatar
      asos -
      On the first page, the correct spelling is "vast", and not "vaste".

      Otherwise, a wonderful and informative article.
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      Quote Originally Posted by asos View Post
      We need more articles like this.
      If you liked this one, you should like this as well:

    1. lestercat's Avatar
      lestercat -
      Was fortunate enough to have gone on the '909' for a flight with my 14 year old daughter at KVNC in 2006. Memories to last a lifetime!

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