"We don't want the Greatest Generation to be forgotten," said Collings Foundation pilot, Jim Harley. "Most museums you go to you can't get near an airplane, let alone go touch it fly in it... it's our mission to be living history."
Visitors could tough, crawl inside, and even take a ride in of the World War II era planes. "Years after the Wright brothers flew, we went from sticks and canvas to these massive pieces of metal that did the mission they were designed to do and defeated the enemy," Harley explained. "It's an honor to fly them. I can't imagine going into combat in them. I can't imagine what those guys felt or saw."
92-year old Lynn Clanin knew what it was like to the fly those planes. "That's an airplane I flew in Europe in World War II," Clanin said pointing to his hat with a picture of the B-26. "I loved to fly the B-26," he said smiling. "It was a hot airplane and I thought I was a hot pilot!"
90-year old Alvin Simas came to the Tour to get one last ride on a B-24, the plane he once served as a flight engineer. "I'm giving my children a ride," Simas said. "I haven't been in one for 70 years, but they've never been in one, so I'm gonna give them a good experience of what it's like."
World War II veterans like Simas and Clanin are passing away at the rate of about 400 a day. They said it's important to them that their stories are shared at events like the Wings of Freedom Tour.
"I do appreciate the attention," Simas said laughing. "Like I said, it's filling your ego gas tank!"
The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour will be in Sacramento on Friday.