Vintage WWII planes landing in Marathon

Vintage WWII planes landing in Marathon

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is one of only 10 in flying condition in the United States and will be on display next week for tours at the Florida Keys Marathon Airport.

It’s been seven years since the Collings Foundation last brought their rare aircraft to the Florida Keys Marathon Airport, but next week, their historic aircraft will be back on display for three days.

“These things are huge!” exclaimed Tony Daiuto, owner of Antique Air. “It doesn’t get much cooler than this.”

The Wings of Freedom Tour, sponsored by the Stow, Mass.-based Collings Foundation, offers a rare opportunity to visit, explore and learn more about two fully-restored WWII bombers – a B-24 and a B-17, as well as a P-51 Mustang – Monday, Feb. 6 through Wednesday, Feb. 8.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine” WWII Heavy Bomber is only one of 10 in flying condition in the United States. The Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” and P-51 are the only remaining examples of their type flying in the world.

The Wings of Freedom Tour travels the nation as a tribute to the crews who flew these planes, many of whom Daiuto reminded were teenagers when they were called to serve their country.

The tour also recognizes the ground crews that maintained the aircraft, the workers who built them and the soldiers, sailors and airmen they transported in and out of war zones.

The B-17 and B-24 were the backbone of the American effort during the war from 1942 to 1945 and were famous for their ability to sustain damage and still accomplish the mission. Despite the risks of anti-aircraft fire, attacking enemy fighters and the sub-zero temperatures, these planes helped return crews home safely.

The P-51 Mustang was affectionately known as the bombers “Little Friend” – saving countless crews from attacking axis fighters.

After the war, many aircraft were scrapped for their raw aluminum to rebuild a nation in post war prosperity; therefore, very few were spared.

Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out – $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12 is requested for access to up-close viewing and tours through the inside of the aircraft.

WWII Veterans are invited to tour the aircraft at no cost, and discounted rates are available for school groups.

Visitors with deeper pockets may experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare beasts.

Flights in either the B-17 or B-24 bombers are $425 per person. P-51 flights are available at $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour flight.

Reservations may be made by calling (800) 568-8924.

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