Wings of Freedom: 'There was a really high likelihood they weren't coming back'

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EUGENE, Ore. - There's quite a buzz about town - or above town, to be more precise.

Vintage war planes are in town for a special tribute as part of The Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour.

The flying tribute to World War II veterans isn't just for show, it's a learning opportunity,

"Most kids now days don't know the history really of World War II," said William Fry, a veteran of World War II.

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"It's really important that people learn to appreciate it wasn't just a movie or a video game." Flight coordinator Jamie Mitchell said. "This really happened. And there's a reason our B-24 is the only flying example. They're weren't built to last, because they knew that many more weren't coming back."

On the walking tour, folks get to see the aircraft inside and out.

It's particularly exciting for young airplane enthusiasts like 8-year-old Cassandra.

"I've been running around on all of the planes like 5 times," Cassandra said.

For an extra fee, guests get to actually take flight inside the historic planes.

"We have a pilot here who's almost 20 years old. He flies all the aircraft, and he's an incredible pilot," Mitchell said. "And you'll see him come off of an aircraft and people will be like, 'You're letting kids fly these things?' And then we're like, 'He's older than the average age of a crew member during the war,' and the people finally realize: hey, back then you were sending your sons out to war and there was a really high likelihood they weren't coming back."

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World War II veterans get to take the walking tour for free.

For Fry, visiting the Wings of Freedom Tour and seeing these aircraft for the first time wince the war brought back memories.

"I started my career in Guadalcanal. That was the first place that they actually sent me," Fry said. "And Guadalcanal was the first place that they actually started fighting Japanese. But I was on a supply ship, which probably saved my life."

The planes are on display at Atlantic Aviation by the Eugene Airport.

The exhibit is open 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, June 22.

Their next stop is Portland.

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