World War II Bombers Land In East Texas - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


World War II Bombers Land In East Texas

Hundreds of East Texans got a chance to see history up close, Monday after some World War II bombers flew into Tyler.  The Wings of Freedom Tour, put on by The Collings Foundation travels to more than a 100 cities every year. 

One by one a B-17, B-24 and B-25 flew into Tyler, Monday afternoon and parked in front of a sea of spectators.

"Totally, totally awesome," said Vietnam War Veteran John Adams.

"For an old pilot like me, it brings tears to my eyes," said retired Navy pilot Ken Toby.

"It's wonderful to me," said Tyler resident Carol Pattings.  "You see what people really did."  Hundreds of East Texans made their way to the old Tyler airport terminal, which is now the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, hoping to catch a glimpse of history.  David Verver was one of more than a dozen lucky veterans and city leaders who got to fly in one of the World War II bombers from Dallas to Tyler.

"We were just thinking and reminiscing how exciting it was to go back and feel this airplane (B-17) and to feel the GI's," said U.S. Air force veteran David Verver.  "You just feel like this is history I've always wanted."  Others, Monday, got the chance to tour the bombers, which for some was kind of difficult.  The bombers may look big on the outside, but the inside is a whole other story.

"The guys who were flying them during the war were young," said Rob Collings of The Collings Foundation.  "They were 18 and 19-years-old, kids who were skinny.  They came right off the farm and there was not a McDonalds back then, and we were in a depression, so they weren't overweight, and it's tight in there."  From the young, to the not so young, the traveling WWII museum was something everyone enjoyed.

"I will walk away with pride," said Vietnam Navy Pilot Ken Toby.  "Pride in the men and women who fought that war and gave us the freedom that we have today."

The WWII Bombers will be at the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, located at 150 Airport Drive, through Wednesday at noon.  Donations are accepted.  If you would like to take a ride on one of the bombers, it costs $425.  For more information, log onto our homepage and click on the Know More on 7 link.  There you will find "Wings Of Freedom Tour."

Molly Reuter, Reporting.


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