Authentic World War II airplanes to visit York
Aviation buffs rejoice: You'll have the chance to climb inside rare World War II-era bomber and fighter aircraft next week.
The national Wings of Freedom Tour is coming to York Airport to educate people about World War II and honor its aging veterans.
As part of a 110-city nationwide tour, the Collings Foundation will fly a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and a North American P-51 Mustang into the York Airport in Jackson Township on Monday and will stay until Wednesday.
The exhibit is interactive and encourages attendees to get a look at what pilots went through, said Hunter Chaney, spokesman for the Massachusetts-based foundation, which has hosted the tours for 24 years.
“To read about World War II history is something you might remember, but to experience something like the Wings of Freedom Tour — that makes a lasting impression on folks,” he said.
To get a feel for how rare these planes are, consider that the B-17 is one of eight in flying condition in the country — and the B-24 and P-51 models are the only ones of their kind in the world, Chaney said.
Although they were mass-produced during the war, most were smelted down to make toasters and cars during the post-war economic boon, he said.
“This is the real thing,” Chaney said. “What you see is straight out of 1945.”
When teaching about “the worst conflict in human history,” there's a challenge with how to engage people and build a sense of appreciation with what happened, Chaney said. Touring the aircraft does the trick, he said.
“When folks come out and see these planes, it is really like literally walking into a time machine,” Chaney said.
With the partial government shutdown frustrating Americans, remembering the staggering losses during the war puts things in perspective, he said.
“We really need to come together as a country, and one of the things that really helps do that is to remember times like when we came together during World War II,” Chaney said.
Today, we're used to living a life of air conditioning, pressurized cabins and cushioned seats. Back then was different, Chaney said.
“It was the equivalent of flying to Mars with a mask and snorkel on,” he said.