Once weapons of war, now `flying classrooms'

B-17 and B-24 set to fly into Carroll air field

October 14, 2001

The Wings of Freedom Tour, sponsored by the Collings Foundation of Stow, Mass., will fly into Carroll County Airport/Jack B. Poage Field on Tuesday afternoon for a three-day stay.

A B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator are expected to arrive at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and stay until Thursday afternoon. Both planes will be available for tours and flights.

The Collings Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization, provides living history transportation vehicles and programs around the country. It has been doing the Wings of Freedom tour since 1989 to support the country's veterans, especially those who fought in World War II.

The B-17 and B-24 both flew combat missions during World War II and have been restored. The tour's B-24 is the only fully restored B-24 in use.

The huge planes, powered by four engines, have wingspans of more than 100 feet. The B-17 is 74 feet long and the B-24 67 feet long. The B-17 carried 13 50-inch Browning machine guns, and the B-24 carried 10 0.50-caliber machine guns.

Both planes "are flying museums and living, breathing examples of actual combat aircraft," said June Poage, airport owner and operator. "Half a century ago, these aircraft waged a war against evil and tyranny, but today they serve as flying classrooms, teaching thousands about ... the sacrifices made by millions of Americans during that time."

The planes are cared for by full-time mechanics. To keep these historic planes in the air, the Collings Foundation depends on donations and admission for tours and rides. For example, it costs $2,000 an hour to operate the B-17.

Planes will be available for tours and rides from arrival until 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.

A donation of $7 for adults and $3 for children is requested for a ground tour of both planes. Flights are available for a $350 tax-deductible donation.

The airport is off Route 97 north of Westminster.

Information: 410-876-7200.

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