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WWII planes roar down Laconia Airport runway



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Henry Dahlquist of Moultonboro stands by a former Air Force plane, owned by the Civil Air Patrol, and explains its mechanics. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
September 22, 2010
History buffs and aviation enthusiasts had the chance to take a walking tour through WWII planes after watching them land at the Laconia Airport in Gilford earlier this week.

Airport Manager Diane Cooper said the three WWII bombers on display at the airport from Monday through Wednesday of this week were part of the "Wings of Freedom" tour, and a means of promoting military history and patriotism.

"The Wings of Freedom tour is a wonderful testimony to the efforts of those in the armed services who helped shape America's aviation history," said Cooper prior to the tour. "The tour, combined with all the other exciting activities offers young and old alike an opportunity to experience a part of our heritage and history without having to travel."

On Monday afternoon, a memorial service with a live Laconia High School band and local veterans was also held in honor of those who have served, on behalf of Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

Thanks to the Collings Foundation based on Stow, Mass., a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator Bomber, and P-51C Mustang Fighter, all WWII planes, flew into the Laconia Airport and were avaliable for all to see. They are considered among the most famous bombers and fighter aircrafts.

These "war birds," the B-17 and B-24 flew side by side in WWII and were instrumental in the war for freedom. The smaller and lighter Mustang P-51 would have accompanied the bombers and distracted German fighter planes so the American bomber aircrafts could reach their target and complete missions.

The "Wings of Freedom" tour is in its 21st year, and these very WWII planes have reached over 2,000 airports throughout the U.S. to educate people on the history of aviation in our country.

The Collings Foundation is also looking to refurbish Vietnam War era planes to bring along on their "live" museum tours.

The Aviation & Aerospace Education Center was also present at the event, as well as more modern plane models representing the Civil Air Patrol such as the 182 former Air Force plane that dates back to the 80s.

These planes are advanced by far compared the WWII planes, although some of their technology could be advanced as well, but much is kept as is for historic value.

The U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol also offers opportunities for youths 12 years and older who wish to become a cadet and are interested in aviation in the Cadet Program out of Laconia.

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