MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Three planes with a long history of service in the United States military made a stop yesterday here at Moffett Field as part of the National Wings of Freedom tour, a traveling aviation museum honoring World War II veterans and providing a living history experience to attendees.
Along with the restored vintage planes, including a P-51 Mustang, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, which are some of the last of their kind, veterans were on hand to tell their tales from cockpits and behind the guns that filled the skies during WWII.
The P-51 Mustang, seen here, was an American long-range, single-seat World War II fighter aircraft. A tactical-reconnaissance aircraft, the P-51 was an agile ground-attack fighter-bomber that helped escort bombers over Germany in 1944.
A lucky few will get to take rides on the vintage planes during the week-long stop of the National Wings of Freedom tour. The Collings Foundation, which puts on the tour, asks for donations of between $325-$425 per person, depending on plane and seat location. Flight training in the P-51, shown here, is also available at most stops on the tour, with pricing beginning at $2,200 for a half hour.
(We have a few photos from a ride on the B-24 later in this gallery.)
WWII veteran Tom Boyd stands at the side belly gun during a flight in the restored B-24 Friday in Mountain View, Calif.
On December 20, 1944, his 19th birthday, Boyd's B-24 was badly damaged, and he and his crew were forced to bail out 22,000 feet over what was then Yugoslavia. It was just his second mission in the war, and, Boyd says, he and his crew walked for 21 days, sleeping during the day and moving quietly across German enemy lines at night.
The vintage planes of the National Wings of Freedom Tour lined up in front of the control tower on the tarmac at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif. The planes will be open for public tours through May 28. Click here for details.