WWII Aircraft Fly to Tri-Cities

Aircraft enthusiasts in the Tri-Cities area are in for a treat between the 16th and 18th of June 2008, as four historic aircraft from the Collings Foundation will be seen flying overhead. Spectators may be forgiven for thinking that they have stepped back in time to the World War II era, as the B-17, B-24, B-25 and P-51 war planes rumble across the sky.

As part of the city of Richland’s 50th anniversary celebrations, these four superbly restored and preserved airplanes will be on the ground at Bergstrom Field in Pasco for walk-through tours and flight experiences. Ground tours will take place from 2 pm through to 5 pm on 16 June, from 10 am though to 5 pm of 17 June and from 10 am through to 12 pm on 18 June. Reservations need to be made for flights in these magnificent old war-birds, and these will take place before and after the ground tour sessions. The cost for a 30-minute bomber run will be between $325 and $425, whereas the fee for a 30-minute flight instruction in the P-51 will be $2,200. A full hour of flying in the P-51 will cost $3,200.

In an effort to assist members of the public to appreciate the legacy of WWII airplanes, the Collings Foundation has devoted much time and effort to restoring and researching their history. The B-17G flying fortress bomber was renowned for its strategic bombing capabilities during WWII. The B-17 that visitors will see, and possibly fly in, is one of fourteen B17s in the United States that is still capable of flying. The B-25 Mitchell medium range bomber is powered by a pair of Wright R-2600 engines. Sixteen B25 bombers were deployed from an aircraft carrier to raid mainland Japan during WWII, under the command of Jimmy Doolittle. After WWII ended, many of these well-built, reliable B-25s were used as transport carriers. They were also used as fire-retardant bombers to protect national forests.

The Collings Foundation’s B-24J Liberator is the only restored, air-worthy B-24J in the world. Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines, this airplane has been painted to resemble a legendary B-24 named “Witchcraft”, which successfully completed 130 combat missions as part of the 8th Air Force during WWII. The two-seater P-51C Mustang fighter has a very distinctive razorback profile. It was from the seat of a P-51C that General Dwight D. Eisenhower directed, from on high, the D-Day invasion at Normandy.

This is a weekend that aircraft enthusiasts would not want to miss, and it is a great opportunity for the older generation to introduce their younger family members to the aircraft that come from an era that shaped the world.