By Morgan Montalvo
Stinson Airport on San Antonio's south side this weekend takes on the appearance of a World War Two air base with the arrival of several restored 1940s military aircraft, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The Alamo City is one of 110 stops the Collings Foundation's annual "Wings of Freedom" tour will make this year. Four of the organization's extensive collection of historic planes - B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator and B-25 Mitchell bombers accompanied by a P-51 Mustang fighter - will be at Stinson through Sunday for walk-thru tours and rides.
The Foundation's Hunter Chaney says the B-17 is one of nine remaining airworthy examples, and the B-24, a later version of aviation's most mass-produced multi-engine aircraft, is the last of its type still able to take to the skies.
Both aircraft were the backbone of the U.S. Army Air Force heavy bomber fleet during the European air war and, along with the later B-29 Superfortress, saw extensive action across the Pacific and Asia.
More numerous among surviving "warbirds," the smaller B-25 medium bomber and P-51 long-range escort fighter also are instantly recognizable by historians and aviation enthusiasts.
Chaney says anyone unfamiliar with the planes or their wartime accomplishments can likely get a history lesson from today's video and online gamers.
"We find a lot of the kids come out and can point out the planes and their model and make, and when they were made, merely through what they've experienced through game-play,"" Chaney says.
Collings Foundation aircraft, Chaney says, are restored to their original wartime configuration and painted in the colors of notable aircraft to honor World War Two veterans and offer the public a "tactile" reminder of America's sacrifices to defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Japanese Empire.
"You're touching, you're exploring, you're smelling, you're feeling these artifacts," he says, "and when it really comes to fruition as far as the 'living history' experience is when people fly in the planes."
The Stow, Maine-based Collings Foundation operates a fleet of aircraft from the early days of flight through the Vietnam Era, along with a collection of vintage military vehicles and historic automobiles. For more information on the organization, log on to: www.collingsfoundation.org
PHOTO: Four surviving examples of U.S. World War Two aircraft, preserved and operated by the Collings Foundation, are visiting Stinson Airport on San Antonio's south side through Sunday as part of the annual "Wings of Freedom" tour. Photo courtesy Collings Foundation