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updated: 7/26/2012 4:43 PM

World War II planes fly into Chicago Executive Airport

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  • A B-17 will be among the aircraft flying into Chicago Executive Airport on Friday.

    A B-17 will be among the aircraft flying into Chicago Executive Airport on Friday.
    Photo Courtesy of The Collings Foundation


Several World War II-era planes will soar into the suburbs this weekend, giving people a chance to see, and even ride in, what organizers call a "flying museum."

The Wings of Freedom Tour will stop at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling/Prospect Heights Friday-Sunday with three vintage World War II aircraft.

A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and North American P-51 Mustang will be on display and available for flights.

"It's not an air show," said Hunter Chaney, the director of marketing for the Collings Foundation, which owns and operates the planes. "It's a living history event."

The tour, now in its 23rd year, is an effort to educate younger Americans about U.S. defense operations and honor those who have fought in wars over the years.

"There's only a handful of these airplanes still flying in the world so we're lucky to have them here,"said Jamie Abbott, assistant director at Chicago Executive Airport.

Abbott said the annual event usually draws a few hundred people, but for the shrinking number of World War II veterans, the event is even more special.

The foundation tries to get any veterans who are able up in a flight during the event, he said.

"People will actually be walking through a flying museum. These are historic airplanes that have meant a lot to the history of this country and our wars," Abbott said. "We hope aviation enthusiasts and the general public will come out and be a part of history."

The event is open to the public from 2-5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 9 a.m.-noon Monday.

A viewing and inside tour of an aircraft is $12 for adults and $6 for children.

A half-hour ride in the B-17 and B-24 are available for $425 a person. P-51 flights are $2,200 for half an hour and $3,200 for a full hour.

Abbott said the money goes back into airplane care and maintenance.

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