Wings Of Freedom Roar into Londonderry

Sep 23, 2009 No Comments by

The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport will host the wings of Freedom Tour at the Aviation Museum. What a great opportunity for kids, parents and grandparents to hear “the sound of freedom” just a few minutes from home!

We are only 45 minutes from Boston, 45 minutes from the coast and 45 minutes from the lakes region. If you missed the tour parked in Laconia Airport on Lake Winnipesaukee this week this weekend is time to get out.

5 minutes from home, Londonderry New HampshireThe Wings of Freedom Tour brings these historic aircraft to Londonderry each year. Just about the time our pumpkins on four of our farms become ripe, you can be sure that these authentically restored aircraft will be parked right here in Londonderry. Just south of the Manchester border sits the restored art deco Terminal moved from the Manchester side of the airport a few years ago. Inside you will find exhibits that share the history of aviation in New Hampshire.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport Aviation Museum, in Londonderry, New HampshireDid you know?

This was the terminal that every serviceman and woman traveling by air passed through on the way to Europe in WWII? If they traveled by air Londonderry and Manchester bid them farewell, some for the very last time. Be sure to read Lorraine Cookson’s “The Long Blue Line” on Sunday Morning here on Londonderry Hometown Online News for a touching story about the men in blue from Grenier Field, now the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

The sounds of these flying Fortress and other vintage aircraft are just one of the most unique things you will ever hear in the sky. Last year when they rumbled down runway 17 and took off to the south, Londonderry Town Councilor Paul DiMarco said, “I just sprinted across my office, which is just south of MHT at the sound of radial engines, in time to catch a B-25 taking off as it left MHT. I went outside with some of my co-workers and had the pleasure of seeing both the B-24 and the B-17 take off shortly thereafter. It was a beautiful sight to behold… vintage WWII aircraft silhouetted against a bright, blue sky on a late summer afternoon. It does not get much better than this.”

MHT fence, WWII aircraft

Don’t get stuck outside the fence!

  • Sept 25, 2009 Arrival at 2pm Friday! open 2pm through 5pm
  • Sept 26, 2009 Saturday 10am through 5pm
  • Sept 27, 2009 Sunday 10am through 12 pm
  • Sept 28, 2009 10-12 noon Departure at Noon

Flight Experiences are available for a donation on all three aircraft. Flights are scheduled before and after the ground tour times noted here.

The Collings Foudation B-18, B-24 and P-51 in flight come to Londonderry NH Manchester-Boston Regional Airport every fall

The Collings Foundation B-17, B-24 and P-51 in flight come to Londonderry NH Manchester-Boston Regional Airport every fall

Go to the Wings of Freedom Tour website for the full details and the 2009 schedule.

The B-17, B-24 and P-51 will be located in Londonderry on the east side of the field. For a small fee you can tour the last remaining machines, for a large fee you can go on a mission in one! Read the rest of the story for more images.

Go to the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society site for more information on this museum located right here in Londonderry!

Read the rest of the story for pictures of Last years event and a google map with directions to where the aircraft are parked. The museum is on the east side of the airport Locals know the back roads that jog around where the “T” Buildings once stood. Read “New Hampshire History T-822 preserved for Londonderry” for more information on our historic airport.

Read the rest of the story for a map to the event, the full press release with pricing on your historic ride and more photos with details on each of these aircraft!

View Manchester, NH in a larger map

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The most widely recognized and revered aircraft type of World War II, the B-17 Flying Fortress, takes to the skies again. The B-17G (Serial # 44-83575) has been returned to its wartime configuration under the auspices of the nonprofit Collings Foundation of Stow, MA and given the name “Nine-O-Nine”.

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport Aviation Museum, in Londonderry, New Hampshire

The Collings Foundation’s Flying Fortress was built at Long Beach, CA by the Douglas Aircraft Company and accepted on April 7, 1945. Although she was too late for combat, #44-83575 did serve as part of the Air/Sea 1st Rescue Squadron and later in the Military Air Transport Service.

In April 1952, #44-83575 was instrumented and subjected to the effects of three different nuclear explosions. After a thirteen-year “cool down” period, #44-83575 was sold as part of an 800-ton scrap pile and Aircraft Specialties Company began the restoration of the aircraft.

Damaged skin was fabricated and replaced on site; engines and props were stripped, cleaned, repaired, and tested; four thousand feet of new control cable was installed; all electrical wiring and instrumentation was replaced. As she neared completion, the jeers and laughter of those who said she would never fly again faded as the sounds of four 1200 HP Wright-Cyclone engines echoed across the desert and “Yucca Lady” rose as the phoenix and climbed into the sky.

For twenty years, without a major problem or incident, #44-83575 served as a fire bomber dropping water and borate on forest fires. She was sold in January 1986 to the Collings Foundation. Restored back to her original wartime configuration by Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft, she represented one of the finest B-17 restorations and won several awards.

In August 1987, while performing at an airshow in western Pennsylvania, “Nine-O-Nine” was caught by a severe crosswind moments after touchdown. The right wing lifted in the air, finally coming down too far down the runway. Despite the efforts of her crew, she rolled off the end of the runway, crashed through a chain link fence, sheared off a power pole and roared down a 100-foot ravine to a thundering stop. The landing gear sheared off, the chin turret was smashed and pushed into the nose; the Plexiglas nose was shattered; bomb bay doors, fuselage, ball turret, wing and nacelles all took a tremendous beating. Engines and propellers were also torn from their mounts. Fortunately, there were no fatalities to the crew or riders, although there were injuries.

For a second time, this B-17 “rose from the ashes”. With nacelles from the famed B-17 “Shoo Shoo Baby”, thousands of volunteer hours, support from the folks of Beaver Falls, PA, and donations from individuals and corporations, she was made whole again to carry on the proud and rugged heritage of the B-17.

Since the crash at Beaver Falls, the B-17 has succeeded in visiting over 2,066 tour stops. This means that millions, who would otherwise never seen the Flying Fortress, have been able to experience first hand the plane that helped change the history of the world fifty years ago.

The Collings Foundation B-17 was named “Nine-O-Nine” in honor of a 91st Bomb Group, 323rd Squadron plane of the same name which completed 140 missions without an abort or loss of a crewman.

The original “Nine-O-Nine” was assigned to combat on February 25, 1944. By April 1945, she had made eighteen trips to Berlin, dropped 562,000 pounds of bombs, and flown 1,129 hours. She had twenty-one engine changes, four wing panel changes, fifteen main gas tank changes, and 18 Tokyo tank changes (long-range fuel tanks). She also suffered from considerable flak damage.

After European hostilities ceased, “Nine-O-Nine”, with its six hundred patched holes, flew back to the United States. While the rigors of war never stopped the historic “Nine-O-Nine”, she succumbed at last to the scrappers guillotine, along with thousands of other proud aircraft.

The B-17 flies as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, visiting over 130 cities nationwide annually with the B-24 Liberator and occasionally other Collings Foundation aircraft such as the B-25 Mitchell. To accomplish this, the Collings Foundation relies solely on contributions and donations to cover the operating cost of over three thousand dollars per flying hour. These contributions ensure the future of the aircraft and keep it flying as a symbol of American patriotism and as a learning tool for our future generations to learn more about World War II and aviation history.

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The world’s only fully restored and flying Consolidated B-24J Liberator is flying over America on its new mission: living history. The B-24 fought for our freedom in the skies of Europe and the Pacific through the use of strategic bombing during the Second World War. In order to help preserve this history and honor the veterans who participated in the war, B-24 serial number 44-44052 has been restored to mint condition under the auspices of the Collings Foundation of Stow, MA.

Over sixty years ago, in August 1944, the Collings Foundation’s Liberator was built at the Consolidated Aircraft Company’s Fort Worth, Texas plant. Shortly afterward, the aircraft was delivered to the US Army Air Force and in October of 1944, it was transferred to the Royal Air Force. Under the British flag, the B-24 saw combat in the Pacific Theater as KH191 in operations ranging from anti-shipping to bombing and re-supply of resistance force operations.

At war’s end, the aircraft was abandoned by the RAF in a bomber graveyard in Khanpur, India; with the assumption that it would not fly again. However, in 1948, the Indian Air Force succeeded in restoring 36 B-24’s, including 44-44052, to operational status. These aircraft were utilized until 1968.

For the next 13 years, the aircraft sat abandoned in India until British aircraft collector, Doug Arnold, obtained it in 1981. The aircraft was disassembled and transported back to England in a Heavy Lift cargo plane. Once in England, the aircraft was advertised for sale in “as is” condition and in 1984, Dr. Robert F. Collings purchased it. After a sea voyage of three weeks, the B-24 arrived in Boston and was brought to Stow, MA in four truckloads.

Collings said that the Foundation intended to restore the plane for static display only, but he was persuaded to restore it to flying status by local B-24 crewmen. “This made it about five times greater a project,” Collings said. “We were convinced by the argument that only about three thousand people a year would see a static display, but three million might see it on a nationwide tour.

Preliminary restoration work started in 1985, led by Massachusetts volunteers, most of who were former crewmen, or sons of crewmen, on B-24’s. When Collings decided to make the plane a flying restoration, he contacted Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft in Kissimmee, FL to do the work on the airframe and power plant. Volunteers restored the turrets, armament, radios, oxygen system, and cosmetic details. The original builders sponsored work on the Emerson Electric nose turret, PPG Industries of Pittsburgh supplied turret glass, and United Technologies of Hartford, CT donated a Norden bombsight. General Dynamics, a successor to Consolidated Aircraft, the original manufacturers of the B-24 in Fort Worth, TX, was a major sponsor of its restoration.

Collings said the restoration involved complete disassembly of the plane and work on about 80% of the B-24’s 1.2 million parts. There was some corrosion and minor damage “plus the desire to make all the systems (engines, props, hydraulics, and electrical) one hundred percent right”.

The entire hydraulic plant was replaced or overhauled, and every pulley was replaced. All cables and hardware, the bearings, an electronic strobe system, the batteries, and the radios were donated, along with installation advice and assistance. The fuselage was in reasonably good shape, but twenty percent of its skin still had to be replaced. More than 420,000 rivets were replaced, as well as fuel cells, brake tubes, tires, and windows. Most of these parts were donated.

After more than five years of hard work and 97,000+ hours of labor, the B-24 flew for the first time after restoration on September 10, 1989.

Starting its new life in 1989 flying as “All American” a 15th Air Force aircraft, which flew in Italy with the 461st Bomb Group, the B-24, flew for many years with this scheme. In 1998 it was repainted to represent the “Dragon and His Tail” a 5th Air Force B-24 flying in the Pacific Theater with the 43rd Bomb Group. In 2005 the B-24 was repainted as “Witchcraft” which honors the veterans of the 8th Air Force, which flew in the European Theater during WWII.

The history of “Witchcraft” is a story that legends are made from. The original “Witchcraft” was produced as a B-24H built by Ford at the famous Willow Run, MI plant in 1944. It was delivered to the 467th in Wendover, Utah and initially assigned to Second Lieutenant George W. Reed and his crew who flew the aircraft to England. “Witchcraft” safely arrived with her crew at Station 145 in Rackheath, England on March 19th, 1944, after a 20-day flight over the Atlantic. The aircraft and crew began their combat service on April 10th, 1944, flying the first combat mission of the 467th Bomb Group. Over the next year “Witchcraft” flew an incredible 130 combat missions with various crews. “Witchcraft” was never once turned back while on a mission, and never had any crewmen injured or killed. Her last mission was flown on April 25th, 1945 which also was the last mission flown by the 467th Bomb Group. “…Witchcraft” was there at the beginning and at the end.” After the war, she was returned to the United States and like many other B-24’s, was scrapped on October 3rd, 1945 at the surplus depot in Altus, Oklahoma.

The B-24 flies as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, visiting over 130 cities nationwide annually with the B-17 Flying Fortress and occasionally other Collings Foundation aircraft such as the B-25 Mitchell. To accomplish this, the Collings Foundation relies solely on contributions and donations to cover the operating cost of over three thousand dollars per flying hour. These contributions ensure the future of the aircraft and keep it flying as a symbol of American patriotism and as a learning tool for our future generations to learn more about World War II and aviation history.

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Fast, well made with the ability to fly long distances, the North American P-51 Mustang became one of the world’s most successful and recognizable aircraft. The bombing missions over the skies of Europe were taking very heavy losses from Luftwaffe fighters. The allied aircrews desperately needed an escort fighter that could stay with the bombers deep into enemy territory and back to base on every mission. The P-51 Mustang was the immediate choice. Within a very short period, the P-51 was affectionately nicknamed by the bomber crews as their “Little Friend”. The P-51 Mustang and the pilots who flew them saved countless lives in the skies and on the ground, and perhaps turned the tied of the war.

North American developed the P-51 in the early 1940s. The first prototype flew on October 26th, 1940 and was designated the NA-73X. The British ordered 620 of the aircraft and designated them the Mustang I. The aircraft entered service starting in February 1942. The United States Army Air Force evaluated two Mustang I’s that they designated XP-51’s. They placed and order for 500 of the aircraft and used in a dive bomb role. In this function the USAF designated them A-36A Apaches before delivery. The P-51A was brought into production when the USAAF replaced the 1,150 horsepower Allison V-1710-F3R in the A-36 Apache with the improved 1,200 horsepower Allison V-1710-81. The Collings Foundation’s P-51C is powered by the Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. The P-51B and C were the first fighters to escort the allied bombers all the way to Germany and back.

Starting in 1943 North American Aircraft started with production of 1,988 P-51Bs from its Inglewood, CA factory. They built and additional 1,750 aircraft from their Dallas, TX facility and designated them as P-51Cs. Starting with the P-51C-5 production block, North American switched to the more powerful Merlin V-1650-7 engine.

The Collings Foundation’s Mustang #42-103293 “Betty Jane” was built in Dallas, TX. #42-103293 went though a meticulous restoration from 2000 to 2004. During restoration the Mustang was rebuilt as a two-seat version of the P-51C. The two-seat P-51C was a field modification that added a second seat for use as a high-speed transport and to allow ground crew to fly. At least 5 P-51B/Cs were converted during WWII for VIP transport. One of the most famous of these modified two seat fighters was used by Dwight Eisenhower and was named “The Stars Look Down”. Ike rode in the back seat of that Mustang over the beaches of Normandy to direct the invasion during D-Day. The Collings Foundation’s Dual Control TP-51C “Betty Jane” is the only one of its type in existence today that features a full set of dual controls.

The Collings Foundation’s P-51C was named “Betty Jane” to honor Col. Charles M. McCorkle, P-51 pilot and Commander of the 31st fighter group based in Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily and Italy. C.M. McCorkle was an excellent fighter pilot and commander, with 11 confirmed kills under his belt – 6 of them in a P-51 Mustang named “Betty Jane”. The 31st led the Mediterranean Theatre of Operation in air combat victories with a total of 571 kills.

Today, the TP-51C Mustang flies escort to the bombers as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, visiting over 110 cities nationwide annually with the B-24 Liberator, B-17 Flying Fortress and B-25 Mitchell. The purpose of the Foundation is to organize and support “living history” events like the Wings of Freedom Tour so Americans have the rare opportunity to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. Taking control of the P-51 Mustang while in flight is one of the most memorable history lessons imaginable.

At each location the P-51 Mustang is available for an unprecedented flight training program. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for both pilots and non-pilots to experience one of the most important fighters of WWII. Since the P-51C “Betty Jane” is dual control, trainees are able to get some “stick time” while flying in this incredible fighter aircraft.

Collings Foundation relies solely on contributions and donations to off set the operation cost of several thousand dollars per flying hour. These contributions ensure the future of the aircraft and keep “Betty Jane” flying, as a symbol of American patriotism and as a educational tool for our future generations to learn more about World War II and aviation history.

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The following is the full press release on this years event from the Collings Foundation;

The Wings of Freedom Tour of the WWII Vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator and North American P-51 Mustang Announce Unique Display in Manchester at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport from September 25 to September 28

The Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour Brings Extremely Rare Bomber and Fighter Aircraft for Local Living History Display as Part of 110-city Nationwide Tour

WHAT: Participating in the Collings Foundation’s WINGS OF FREEDOM TOUR, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine” WWII Heavy Bomber, Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” WWII Heavy Bomber and P-51 Mustang, will fly into Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH for a visit from September 25 to September 28. This is a rare opportunity to visit, explore, and learn more about these unique and rare treasures of aviation history. The B-17 is one of only 9 in flying condition in the United States, the B-24J and Dual Control P-51C Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the World. Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out – $12 donation for adults and $6 donation for children under 12 is requested for access to up-close viewing and tours through the inside of the aircraft. Visitors may also experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft. Flight experiences are a tax-deductible donation. Flights on either the B-17 or B-24 are $425 per person. Get some “stick time” in the world’s greatest fighter! P-51 flights are $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour. For reservations and information on flight experiences call 800-568-8924.

WHERE: The WINGS OF FREEDOM TOUR will be on display at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester located at Aviation Museum of NH at 13 East Perimeter Road, Londonderry.

WHEN: The WINGS OF FREEDOM TOUR will arrive at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport at 2:00 PM on September 25 and will be on display at Aviation Museum of NH at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport until the aircraft departs September 28 at 12:00 PM. Hours of ground tours and display are: 2:00 PM through 5:00 PM on Friday, September 25; 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM on Saturday, September 26; 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM on Sunday, September 27; and 10:00 AM through 12:00 PM on Monday, September 28. The 30-minute flight experiences are normally scheduled before and after the ground tour times above.

WHO: The Collings Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit educational foundation devoted to organizing “living history” events that allows people to learn more about their heritage and history through direct participation. The Nationwide WINGS OF FREEDOM TOUR is in its 20th year and visits an average of 110 cities in over 35 states annually. Since its start, tens of millions of people have seen the B-17, B-24 & P-51 display at locations everywhere. The WINGS OF FREEDOM tour is one of the most extraordinary and unique interactive traveling historical displays of its kind.

WHY: The WINGS OF FREEDOM TOUR travels the nation 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-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 sub-zero 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 post-war prosperity and therefore very few were spared. The rarity of the B-17, B-24 & P-51 – and their importance to telling the story of WWII is why the Collings Foundation continues to fly and display the aircraft nationwide. At each location we encourage local veterans and their families to visit and share their experiences and stories with the public. For aviation enthusiasts, the tour provides opportunity for the museum to come to the visitor and not the other way around! Visitors can find out more by visiting our website at


About the author

Kathy is very active in Londonderry and the southern New Hampshire Region. A advocate for business growth and a passion for outstanding community services, she brings life to the phrase "Business is Good. Life is Better!" to Londonderry. Serving as the Old Home Day Chairman since 1999 she has been a Londonderry Town Councilor, Trustee of the Leach Library, is presently Chairman of the demolition delay committee and serves or has served on many local boards and commissions.
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