By Dave Crawley

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.