Wings of Freedom Tour lands in Bremerton to showcase aviation history

Historic aircraft touch down at Bremerton National Airport

The Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour returned to Bremerton June 17-19 to showcase some of their rare war aircraft, including the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24, B-25, P-40 and P-51.

The three-day display included ground tours of the interior and exterior of the aircraft, as well as the chance to take a 30-minute flight aboard one of them for a cost ranging from $400 to $450. Ground tours were $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12.

“They’re keeping the history alive,” said volunteer pilot Robert Norman Jr., who is also a Boeing first officer on the 777. “We’ll never be able to thank those people enough. We’re losing them at an astonishing rate. We’re just making sure people don’t forget what that generation did.”

The tour itself lasts 10 months out of the year, starting at the southern tier of the U.S. during the winter months, then coming up the west coast during the spring before heading to the northern tier in the late summer and early fall. The tour is celebrating its 30th year in existence.

“Each plane has its own unique story, as they’ve survived 75 years,” Norman said. “The walking tours are most popular. The rides are a little bit more expensive but it is a true lifetime experience.”

The Collings Foundation is a nonprofit founded in 1979 with the purpose of preserving and exhibiting rare historical artifacts and organizing and supporting living history events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation, according to the foundation’s website.

“The Collings Foundation is military transportation, not just aviation,” Norman said. “They have these five airplanes and maybe 50 others and they are all in some state of flying condition or being restored.”

“I tell people [to] close your eyes and imagine a World War II bomber,” Norman Jr. said. “That airplane you’re thinking of is a B17. It’s iconic.”

The B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” is the sole remaining aircraft of its type flying in the world, according to the Port of Bremerton. Norman said there were more B-24s built than any other airplane in history — approximately 18,000 were manufactured.

The B-25 Mitchell “Tondelayo” bomber is best known for being used in the U.S. Army Air Force’s Doolittle air raid on Tokyo during World War II. Also on display were the P-40 Warhawk “Jaws” and the P-51 Mustang “Betty Jane” fighters. The p-51 Mustang was recently awarded the Grand Champion award for restoration while the P-40 Warhawk is known as the front-line fighter for the Flying Tigers, the first American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941-1942.

Norman talked about the appeal that Bremerton has and why the tour chooses to come back every year.

“I live in Atlanta and I make a point to come out here every year. This is one of the most beautiful areas to fly in. The green, the trees and the water — it is such a gorgeous area to fly in. The people out here are great. They take good care of us.”

The Wings of Freedom Tour made stops in Port Angeles and at Seattle’s Boeing Field earlier this month.

Tyler Shuey is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tshuey@soundpublishing.com

More in News

Rep. Appleton will retire at end of term in 2021

Sherry Appleton will retire as representative for Washington’s 23rd Legislative District at… Continue reading

(photo from Suquamish Tribe)
Suquamish Foundation celebrates giving on Indigenous Peoples Day

On Indigenous Peoples Day, the Suquamish Tribe released a new video showcasing… Continue reading

Manchester wastewater treatment plant is ‘outstanding’

State recognizes outstanding performance at Manchester, Kingston plants

Paige Stringer shows her own hearing aids to Mongolian child.
Poulsbo resident earns recognition from World of Children

Poulsbo resident Paige Stringer received the 2019 World of Children Health Award… Continue reading

Independent wins 13 awards at WNPA ceremony

Smith takes 12 editorial and photo awards for 2019

(l-r) Dr. Ani Fleisig and Diane Munroe at T-Mobile Park, where Diane got to throw out the first pitch at the Mariners game. (photo courtesy of Diane Munroe)
3D technology saves Poulsbo woman’s life

Thanks to the introduction of three-dimensional mammography at CHI Franciscan in Burien,… Continue reading

Man arrested in Bremerton after allegedly conducting a series of burglaries

Burglaries included stealing packages off porches and vehicle prowling

Southworth fast ferry service update at meeting

The community meeting is Oct. 26 at Harper Church in Port Orchard

Fathoms O’ Fun royalty scholarship program seeking applicants

Potential Royalty Court candidates being sought from among 6th through 12th graders in South Kitsap.

Most Read