Photos by Hannah Richardson, Lifestyle Editor
The Wings of Freedom Tour will continue to be at the Natchitoches Regional Airport Thursday, March 8 from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Friday, March 9 from 10 a.m. – noon. Today, March 7, the P-51 Mustang “Toulouse Nuts” fighter and the B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine” landed at the airport
The P-51 Mustang “Toulouse Nuts” fighter recently received the prestigious Oshkosh Grand Champion Award for restoration and the B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine-O-Nine” is one of only nine in flying condition in the United States.
P-51 Mustang was affectionately known as the bombers “Little Friend”, saving countless crews from attacking axis fighters. After the war, many aircraft were scrapped for their raw aluminum to rebuild a nation in post-war prosperity and therefore very few were spared.
The B-17 was the backbone of the American effort during the war from 1942 to 1945 and were famous for their ability to sustain damage and still accomplish the mission. Despite the risks of anti-aircraft fire, attacking enemy fighters, and the harrowing environment of sub-zero temperatures, many B-17s safely brought their crews home.
The Collings Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit educational foundation devoted to organizing “living history” events that allows people to learn more about their heritage and history through direct participation. The tour is celebrating its 29th year and visits an average of 110 cities in over 35 states annually. The tour 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; and the citizens and families that share the freedom that they helped preserve
Flights on either the B-17 are $450 per person. P-51 flight training is $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for an hour.