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Wings of Freedom

POSTED: Friday, March 11, 2011 - 9:43pm

UPDATED: Saturday, March 12, 2011 - 5:08pm

They are the planes that saved civilization. They carried the greatest generation to war, and to victory.
And this weekend you can step back in time, to an era when young men raised their hands and volunteered to save the world.
As they bank over the field, it’s difficult not to think back, to other fields, and a time when the world was in the balance.
They are beautiful but deadly. Made of aluminum and American ingenuity, the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator were the bludgeon used to bring the Third Reich and Imperial Japan to their knees.
The Wings of Freedom tour is flying across the country sponsored by the Collins Foundation, and this weekend, they are in Tyler.
Our journey began in Shreveport where we boarded the B-24 Liberator, the plane flown by men like Jimmy Stewart, Lloyd Bentson and George McGovern…and Roy Fulco.
“I was a real double-barrel rookie,” he joked.
After pre-flight checks, the bomb bay was closed and we powered up.
Watching Roy during takeoff it was apparent the Liberator was a time machine…taking him back to 9 missions over Germany, long, loud, dangerous flights where gunners were always on alert for fighters, and if nature called, there was the ultimate in luxury lavatories.
Back to the mission where he had to bail out of a burning plane at 23,000 feet and spent 8 months as a POW.
And then, all too soon, it is over as our 23-tons of living history sets down on the runway at Tyler Pounds.
But you can book a seat for a flight in any of the World War Two aircraft or the machine that is emblematic of the Vietnam War, the Bell UH-1 Iroquois better known as the Huey.
So, if you want to see, smell and touch a bit of history, the Wings of Freedom will be at Tyler Pounds through the weekend.
As for Roy…
“How’d you like the flight?” we asked.
“It was OK,” he laughed.
The historic aircraft will be on display through Monday, right next to the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum.

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