Jamie Mitchell is the flight coordinator for the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour. They recently brought four fully-restored WWII-era airplanes to Pryor Regional Airport.
Mitchell says that part of her job is getting the next generation in touch with the greatest generation.
The tour is displaying the four aircraft, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, a North American B-25 Mitchell and a P-51 Mustang.
Mitchell says that she used to see older veterans at airshows who would share their stories of the war. However, she did not see many people from the younger generation. She’s concerned that as the WWII-era generation dies out, the current generation will lose the chance to know about the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans and those who sacrificed at home to help the war effort.
Many children and teens were seen at Pryor airport. Sam Evans is 15. He was excited to see the interior of the B-1 and the engine in the P-51.
Bill Varnedoe, 93, is a WWII veteran who made it out to the show. He completed 26 missions as a B-17 navigator. He posed for pictures with the aircraft and moved through the insides of the plane with practiced ease.
Most of the WWII planes you see in movies are B-17s. People also have stories of relatives that served on a B-17. It is the most familiar to a lot of people.
Of the four, only the B-24 Liberator had seen battle action. The B-24 Liberator is the most heavily manufactured plane in US military history, decaturdaily.com reported.
Julie Cruze is a volunteer pilot for the tour. She works as a commercially trained 777 pilot for United Airlines. She volunteers because she wants to inspire young girls to consider a career in aviation that they may not have considered before.