Final day for historic Wings of Freedom Tour
One could argue that, had the Messerschmitt Me 262 been operational sooner during World War II, we all might have been just a bit closer to speaking German.
The German fighter plane, which began use in combat by the Luftwaffe in the fall of 1944, was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft and was much faster and better armed than most Allied fighters.
The Me 262's swept wings, automatic slats and modular construction were features far ahead of its time; features still seen on contemporary aircraft.
Fortunately for us, Adolf Hitler's insistence in the unsuitable use of the aircraft, as well as its late introduction into the war made the Me 262 a lesser factor in World War II.
|If You Go ...|
|What: Wings of Freedom Tour will bring vintage aircraft, including the German Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter jet, the Vietnam-era Huey Helicopter, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, the North American P-51 Mustang, and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress|
When: Hours of grand tours and display are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
The 30-minute flight experiences are normally scheduled before and after the ground tour times. After 5 p.m. Sunday, aircraft depart.
Where: Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, at the Historical Aviation Memorial Museum, 150 Airport Drive
Cost: Ground tours for aircraft: $15 for adults and $8 for children younger than 12 for access to up-close viewing and tours inside the aircraft. (includes entrance to the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum). Admission will be handled through the museum.
Flights: The Collings Foundation crew members will be on duty in the museum's lobby to handle flight reservations.
A 30-minute flight on either the B-17 or B-24 is $425 per person.
P-51 flights are $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour.
Flights in the Huey are $80 bench and $100 in the front.
Messerschmitt Me 262 flights are available; certain prerequisites are required.
Information: For reservations and information on flight experiences, call 800-568-8924. Questions also may be directed to the museum at 903-526-1945 or 903-526-1939.
The rich history of the German plane and other WWII and Vietnam War-era aircraft were on display Saturday at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport during the Wings of Freedom Tour.
The Collings Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation founded in 1979, brought the tour, which is in its second day Saturday in Tyler. Sunday is its final showing.
The Collings Foundation, based in Stow, Mass., has put on the Wings of Freedom Tour since 1989, and according to its website, the purpose of the tour is to enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation.
In the 24 years of the tour, the foundation has reached 110 cities in 35 states.
In addition to the Me 262, the tour also boasts a P-51C Mustang, a B-24J Liberator, a B-17 Flying Fortress, a Vietnam War-era Huey helicopter, brought by the group. Other vintage aircraft are also on display and many other vintage military aircraft.
Carolyn Verver, board president for the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, said that the "flying museum" is an important part of aviation history, and works to promote the museum.
"We're constantly promoting and doing things out here to bring in local people to come and see what we have out here to offer, as far as another entertainment (venue) in Tyler," she said. "Who doesn't love an airport? Who doesn't love an airplane?"
More importantly, Verver said, the tour works to educate people about the history of the United States.
"It's just a part of who we are," she said. "Our children, growing up today, live in a different world. I think they need to look back and see how their ancestry got to where they are today."
Verver said it is important for children to understand the struggles of their ancestors.
"I think that it is important for a young person to know what his grandparents or great grandparents went through for our freedom here in the good old USA."
Ryan Harris, Collings Foundation volunteer, said the purpose of the tour was to honor and teach the history of this country's heroes.
"These guys fought for us," he said. "Whether it's from the Vietnam (Huey) helicopter to the World War II airplanes, it's the same reason for (showing) all of them: to preserve the history. So their stories aren't forgotten."
The tour, which has made its fifth appearance at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, brought four vintage planes and a helicopter, which also offered flight experiences.
Verver, who flew in the P-51C Mustang named Betty Jane in 2011, described it as a "fabulous flight experience."
The tour continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.