WMU News

Two classic WWII planes will visit Battle Creek

July 24, 2001

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- West Michigan residents will have an opportunity to get a close-up look at a B-24 Liberator and a B-17 Flying Fortress when the famed World War II-vintage aircraft visit Western Michigan University's College of Aviation July 29 through Aug. 1.

The completely restored planes, part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, will fly into WMU's Battle Creek, Mich., facility at W.K. Kellogg Airport at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 29, and will be on display and open for tours for four days. A limited number of flight experiences on the planes also will be part of the attraction.

Tours will take place on the WMU College of Aviation ramp at Kellogg Airport from the time the planes arrive to 6:30 p.m. Sunday; from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, July 30 and 31; and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1. A donation of $7 for adults and $3 for children will be requested to tour both aircraft. Flight experiences also will be available on either aircraft for a $350 tax-deductible donation. Flight arrangements may be made by calling (904) 451-9508.

The visit is sponsored by WMU's College of Aviation, which is working with the Collings Foundation of Stow, Mass., to bring the planes to Battle Creek. The nonprofit foundation was formed in 1979 to organize and support "living history" events that enable American to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. The foundation's goals include bringing WWII history to life and keeping the planes of the era flying so they can be seen by future generations. Tour and flight fees are used to keep the planes in working condition.

The foundation's B-24 Liberator bomber, known as the "Dragon and His Tail," is the only B-24 still in flying condition today. During World War II, such planes were used for strategic bombing in both the European and Pacific theatres. The foundation's B-17 Flying Fortress, named the "Nine-O-Nine," is one of only 14 still flying. It was used primarily for bombing missions as well, and the foundation's B-17 is named in honor of a similar plane that made 18 bombing runs over Berlin in 1944 and 1945. Both planes have been carefully restored to World War II-era authenticity.

For 11 years, the Wings of Freedom Tour has been visiting U.S. cities, making a total of more than 1,400 stops and annually attracting an estimated 3 million visitors. The planes visiting Battle Creek will be traveling to Michigan from a tour stop in Pewaukee, Wis.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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