BUTLER COUNTY (KDKA) — A host of planes touched down at the Butler County Airport for an event Thursday and Friday, hosted by Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour.
Butler is the current stop on the tour. Flight coordinator Jamie Mitchell says flights and tours of the planes are available, for a fee.
“Considering all of the political stuff that’s going on in this country, and everyone fighting with each other,” says Mitchell. “It’s really important right now to appreciate a time when everyone was proud to be an American and we were all in this together.”
B-25 pilot Ray Pflederer and just about everyone else with the Collings Foundation do this voluntarily.
“I think the first word is honored,” Pflederer says. “Because when I think about what the veterans did who flew these planes in the war, it’s just humbling that I get to fly the same airplane that they did. Once in a while we get some of the veterans of World War II up on a flight, and that’s really special.”
Veteran B-25 tail gunner Vito Orabito described the missions, “To keep the other planes away from shooting ours down, so we could drop our bombs.”
The arrival of the B-17 was delayed by electrical problems. But tail gunner Bob Buckler says he remembers every mission.
“Everybody else was saying if a flight was coming, what direction it was coming from,” Buckler says. “You were busy all the time if you were over enemy territory. No time to be scared.”
Tours are $5 for kids and $15 for adults. Flights range from $400 for a half hour on a B-25, to the anniversary gift one passenger is getting from his wife: $3,200 for an hour on a P-51.