Some vintage World War II airplanes are on display this week in northeast Iowa. Four rare planes flew into the Waterloo Regional Airport on Monday as part of the “Wings of Freedom Tour.”
“A lot of people are so curious about history in their own family because people came back from war and never talked about it, and then they experience this,” said Demi Bamber, flight coordinator for the Collings Foundation, the non-profit group that has organized the tour for the past 30 years. “And it makes them, I guess, feel a little bit closer to what their relatives experienced in the war.”
Bamber said the “Flying Fortress” on display in Waterloo is one of only nine in flying condition in the United States. A P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk Fighter and a B-24 Liberator that’s the only remaining example of its type flying in the world are also on display. Visitors may explore the inside of the planes and even go on a 30-minute flight.
“I think it gives people a greater appreciation for what our veterans went through,” she said, “but I think (the tour) makes people generally more curious about learning about history.”
Bamber flew to Waterloo aboard the B-17 “Flying Fortress” and she recommends visitors sign up for a flight.
“It’s inspiring and it leaves you in awe and the views you get to see of your home area are pretty wild,” Bamber said. “The experience for everybody is different, but it’s always moving. People get off with tears of joy in their eyes.”
The vintage airplanes are on display until 5 pm today and from 9:30 am to noon on Thursday at a cost of $15 for adults an $5 for children under 12. Flight experiences are scheduled before and after those hours. For reservations and information on flight experiences, call (800) 568-8924.
(Reporting and photography by Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Waterloo)