Wings of history |

Wings of history

B-17 and folks at Truckee Airport...$8 adults, $4 children photo by Josh Miller

History was in the air over Truckee Wednesday as two classic World War II bombers touched down on the first day of a three-day visit.

While inanimate, the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator parked on the tarmac of the Truckee Tahoe Airport are anything but masses of aluminum and rivets. The workhorses of World War II tap straight into the emotions of the “Greatest Generation” and history buffs alike.

The missions bomber crews flew over Germany were grueling – mentally and physically – and more often than not, deadly.

Walter Hughes managed to survive 35 missions over Germany as a pilot of a B-24.

“My co-pilot was killed on our 15th mission,” Hughes said Wednesday before the two planes left the Reno airport bound for Truckee. “I knew I had to get on that plane 20 more times.

“I just did it. I didn’t think about it.”

The bombers will leave the Truckee Tahoe Airport on Friday, May 28. They were visiting as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, a national tour organized by the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation founded in 1979. The purpose of the foundation, organizers say, is to support living-history events that honor veterans and educate visitors about the planes of World War II.

And that is what Hughes does by recounting his time spent in the air over Europe from September 1944 to April 1945. It was the apex of the war in Europe when the Allies were putting 1,000 bombers into the air a day, Hughes said.

“If you were in the middle pack,” he said, “you couldn’t see the front or the back.”

For those who want to see, touch and hear history – including the last flying B-24 in the world – go to the airport.


Wings of Freedom Tour

World War II B-17 and B-24 bombers on display

Truckee Tahoe Airport main ramp

May 28 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

$8 adults, $4 children under 12. $400 for a 30-minute, tax-deductible flight. Call (978) 562-9182 for flight reservations.

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