Wings of Freedom

Three warbirds with the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour will be making a stop in Minot at the Dakota Territory Air Museum June 30-July 3.

A World War II Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a North American P-51 Mustang and the only restored flying B-24J Liberator in the world will be on display.

People will be able to tour the planes and also experience World War II history by scheduling a “flight experience” in the B-17 or B-24, or take “flight training” in the P-51.

The Collings Foundation is a nonprofit educational foundation in Stowe, Mass.

According to the Collings Foundation:

The B-17 is a plane considered the most widely recognized and revered aircraft type of World War II. The Collings Foundation’s plane has the name “Nine-O-Nine” in honor of a 91st Bomb Group, 323rd Squadron plane of the same name which completed 140 missions without an abort or loss of a crewman.

The foundation’s B-24 is the world’s only fully restored and flying Consolidated B-24J Liberator flying over America on its new mission: living history. B-24s fought in the skies of Europe and the Pacific as a strategic bomber during World War II. The foundation’s B-24 has been restored to mint condition. In 2005, the plane was repainted as “Witchcraft” in honor of the veterans of the 8th Air Force who flew in the European Theater during World War II.

The P-51, a fast, well made plane with the ability to fly long distances, was an escort fighter for the bombers during World War II. The foundation’s P-51C was named “Betty Jane” to honor Col. Charles M. McCorkle, a P-51 pilot and commander of the 31st Fighter Group based in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily and Italy, a unit that led the Mediterranean Theater of Operation in air combat victories with a total of 571 kills. Today, the plane flies escort to the bombers as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour. The “Betty Jane” is the only one of its type in existence today that has a full set of dual controls.

Walk-through tours of the aircraft are $12 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under for access to all of the aircraft. World War II veterans will not be charged for ground tours of the planes.

Flight experiences aboard the B-17 or B-24 are $450 per person. Flight training in the P-51 is $2,200 for a half hour flight and $3,200 for a full hour. People can make reservations for the flight experiences or flight training by calling the Collings Foundation at 978-562-9182.

The Wings of Freedom Tour will be in Montana (Kalispell and Billings) before coming to Minot. After Minot, the tour’s next stop is in Chicago later in July.