Tour rare World War II aircraft in Wheeling

  • A B-17 Flying Fortress is displayed as part of the "Wings of Freedom" tour at Executive Airport in Wheeling. The tour returns this weekend, July 27-29.

      A B-17 Flying Fortress is displayed as part of the "Wings of Freedom" tour at Executive Airport in Wheeling. The tour returns this weekend, July 27-29. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2017

  • Visitors to the Wings of Freedom Tour can explore the inside of the aircraft.

    Visitors to the Wings of Freedom Tour can explore the inside of the aircraft. Daily Herald File Photo, 2015

Posted7/25/2018 11:46 AM

Rare bomber and fighter aircraft from World War II will be on display Friday through Sunday, July 27-29, at Executive Airport in Wheeling.

The living history display is held in honor of World War II veterans as part of a 110-city nationwide Wings of Freedom tour.


The Wings of Freedom Tour will arrive at Chicago Executive Airport at 2 p.m. Friday, July 27, and will be on display until the aircraft depart July 29. Hours of ground tours and display are: 2 to 5 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29.

Aircraft on display will include the B-17 Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine," Consolidated B-24 Liberator "Witchcraft," B-25 Mitchell "Tondelayo" bombers and P-51 Mustang "Toulouse Nuts" fighter.

This is a rare opportunity to visit, explore, and learn more about these unique treasures of aviation history. The B-17 is one of only eight in flying condition in the United States, the B-24J is the sole remaining example of its type flying in the world. The B-25 is best known for being used in the daring Doolittle raid. The P-51 Mustang was awarded the prestigious Grand Champion award for restoration.

Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out. Cost is $15 for adults and $5 for children younger than 12 for access to up-close viewing and tours of the inside of the aircraft. There are discounted rates for school groups.

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Visitors may also experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft. Flights on either the B-17 or B-24 are $450 per person.

Get some "stick time" in the world's greatest fighter. P-51 flight training is $2,200 for a half-hour and $3,200 for a full hour. B-25 flights are $400 per person. For reservations and information on flight experiences, call (800) 568-8924. For details, visit

About the tour

The Wings of Freedom Tour travels the nation as a flying tribute to the flight crews who flew them, the ground crews who maintained them, the workers who built them, the soldiers, sailors and airmen they helped protect, and the citizens and families that share the freedom that they helped preserve.

The B-17, B-25 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 harrowing environment of subzero temperatures, many B-17s and B-24s safely brought their crews home.

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 postwar prosperity, and therefore very few were spared. The rarity of the B-17, B-25, B-24 and P-51 -- and their importance to telling the story of World War II -- is why the Collings Foundation continues to fly and display the aircraft nationwide.

At each location, local veterans and their families are encouraged to visit and share their experiences and stories with the public. For aviation enthusiasts, the tour provides an opportunity for the museum to come to the visitor and not the other way around.

Collings Foundation

The Collings Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit, educational foundation devoted to organizing "living history" events that allow people to learn more about their heritage and history through direct participation.

The Nationwide Wings of Freedom Tour is celebrating its 29th year and visits an average of 110 cities in more than 35 states annually. Since its start, tens of millions of people have seen the B-17, B-24 and P-51 display at locations everywhere.

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