The Collings Foundation Since 1989, a major focus of The Collings Foundation featuring WWII aircraft. This tour showcases two fully restored heavy bomber aircraft: a B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress. The Collings Foundation newest addition to the Wings of Freedom Tour is a WWII P-51C Mustang dual-control fighter aircraft.
The Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress flies as “Nine-O-Nine”, in honor of an 8th Air Force, 91st BG heavy bomber. The B-17 was the companion of the B-24 in thousands of wartime, bombing, and reconnaissance missions. Together they were the backbone of the daylight strategic bombing campaign of WWII. The Foundation’s P-51C was named “Betty Jane” to honor Col. Charles M. McCorkle, P-51 pilot who was an “ace” fighter pilot and commander, with 11 confirmed kills under his belt – 6 of them in a P-51 Mustang named “Betty Jane”. “Betty Jane” has joined the tour as a representative of the “little friends” that engaged the German fighters as the huge bomber formations flew toward enemy targets, saving countless bomber crew lives.
The “Wings of Freedom Tour” has two goals: to honor the sacrifices made by our veterans that allow us to enjoy our freedom; and to educate the visitors, specially younger Americans, about our national history and heritage. The Foundation encourages people to tour the planes, talk to the veterans who come to visit the aircraft, and participate in a “flight experience”. In twenty-one years, the tour has made more than 2,378 visits to airports across the United States and Alaska. While the exact number of visitors is difficult to gauge, it is estimated that between 3 and 4 million people see these warbirds annually.
From headquarters in Stow, MA, the Foundation coordinates the “Wings of Freedom” and “Vietnam Memorial” flights and acts as a clearinghouse of information on issues of both aviation and history, along with overseeing the operation of other aircraft and projects. The Foundation also publishes web and print newsletters that are sent to over 70,000 contributors and has an active membership and volunteer program.
The Stow facilities include an aviation museum and a vintage automobile and racecar collection, which are open by appointment for group tours from May through October. On average, twenty-five events are hosted every year, many of them fundraising events for non-profit groups. The Foundation also hosts three public open house / “living history” events annually at the Stow headquarters.
Over the past thirty years the Foundation has undertaken and completed more restoration projects than many of the major aviation museums in the United States such as the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) or the United States Air Force Museum. The importance of volunteers who support the Foundation’s efforts by hosting the aircraft in their tour.
here are the slideshows in four parts
here’s a video
walk around tour of the “Whitchcraft” B-24 on display at Naples airport just outside of the Museum of Military Memorabilia