October 28, 2009
Taking advantage of the improved weather conditions, I headed up to the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave today, to see an exhibit of aircraft from World War II. There were two bombers -- a B-17 Flying Fortress and a B-24 Liberator, the only one in the world that is still flight-worthy -- and one fighter, the P-51 Mustang. The public event was part of the "Wings of Freedom" tour that is run by the Collings Foundation, a non-profit group devoted to historical preservation. The volunteers who work with that group deserve a lot of credit for keeping alive the memory of what author Studs Terkel called "The Good War."
For a modest entry fee (12 bucks) they let you get inside the two bombers, which was quite a thrill. It is a very tight squeeze, and rather hazardous if you're not careful. I was mesmerized getting up close and personal with the ancient military hardware, imagining what it would be like to fire a machine gun at attacking German Messerschmitts. Actually, it was the second time I had climbed aboard a B-17. In August 2006, I saw a Flying Fortress take off and land at the Manassas airport in Northern Virginia.
Larger-sized photos of these three aircraft are posted on the (new) Warplanes photo gallery page. More photos showing different angles and some interior details will be added later.