Roanoke Regional Airport Commission (RRAC) announces a weekend celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the commissioning of Woodrum Field at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. Events include the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour featuring World War II Vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine-O-Nine”, Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft”, North American B-25 Mitchell “Tondelayo” bombers and P-51 Mustang fighter “Toulouse Nuts” on Friday, October 14 through Sunday October 16. The event will take place at 22 Waypoint Drive on the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.
The Wings of Freedom Tour will arrive at the airfield at 2:00 p.m. on October 14 and will be on display until 4:30 p.m. On October 15 and 16 the aircraft will be on display from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Also, on October 15 at 11:00 a.m. one of the roads on the airport grounds will be dedicated to Mr. Wes Hillman, our local aviation pioneer who passed away in April. Not only had Mr. Hillman been an original founder of the Civil Air Patrol during World War II, but he was also an inductee to the Virginia Aviation Historical Society Hall of Fame and he was also awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in February 2015.
The Celebration is free of charge with exhibits on Saturday and Sunday including the Pan Am DC-3 ‘Tabitha May’, Carilion Life-Guard helicopter (Saturday morning), Star Flight Training, Roanoke Eight Air Force Fellowship, The Ninety-Nines, Mid Atlantic Section – International Organization of Women Pilots, National Weather Service and Ben Gilbert’s F4 Phantom Thunderbirds Cockpit (photos in the cockpit will be available for a fee) will be on display and area food trucks will be on hand to provide nourishment for visitors to the event.
This is a rare opportunity to visit, explore, and learn more about these unique and rare treasures of aviation history. The B-17 is one of only eight in flying condition in the United States. The B-25 is best known for being used in the daring Doolittle raid and the P-51 “Toulouse Nuts” recently received the 2016 Oshkosh Grand Champion Award for restoration. Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out. For access to up-close viewing and tours through the inside of the aircraft, fees are $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12 years of age. Discounted rates are available to school groups. Visitors may also experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft. Flights on the B-17 or B-24 are $450 per person. Or you can get some “stick time” in the world’s greatest fighter, the P-51. Flights on this aircraft are $2,200 a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour. B-25 flights are $400 per person.
The Wings of Freedom Tour travels the nation as a flying tribute to flight crews who flew them, the ground crews who maintained them, the workers who built them, the soldiers, the sailors and airmen they helped protect; and the citizens and families that share the freedom that they helped preserve. The B-17, B-25 and B-24 were the backbone of the American effort during the war from 1942 to 1945 and were famous for their ability to sustain damage and still accomplish the mission. Despite the risks of anti-aircraft fire, attacking enemy fighters and the harrowing environment of sub-zero temperatures, many B-17s and B-24s safely brought theirs crews home. The P-51 Mustang was affectionately known as the bomber’s “Little Friend” – saving countless crews from attacking axis fighters. After the war, many aircraft were scrapped for their raw aluminum to rebuild a nation in post-war prosperity and therefore very few were spared. The scarcity of the B-17, B-25 B-24 and P-51 and their importance to telling the story of World War II is why the Collings Foundation continues to fly and display the aircraft nationwide. At each location local veterans and their families are encouraged to visit and share their experiences and stories with the public. For aviation enthusiasts, the tour provides opportunity for the museum to come to the visitor and not the other way around. Visitors can find out more by visiting the website at www.colingsfoundation.org. For reservations and information on flight experiences, call 800-568-8924.
The Collings Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit, educational foundation devoted to organizing “living history” events which allows people to learn more about their heritage and history through direct participation. The Nationwide Wings of Freedom Tour is celebrating its 27th year and visits an average of 110 cities in over 35 states annually. Since its start, tens of millions of people have seen the B-17, B-24, B-25 and P-51 display at locations everywhere. The Wings of Freedom Tour is one of the most extraordinary and unique interactive traveling historical displays of its kind.
The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is the primary airport for Virginia’s Blue Ridge. ROA moves nearly 600,000 passengers per year via four airlines with nonstop service to eight hub cities. To learn more, please visit www.flyroa.com.