Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Wings of Freedom Tour at Laconia Airport

Consolidated B-24 Liberator "Witchcraft"

P-51 Mustang "Little Friend" (My husband Bob's photo)

Earl "Smitty" Smith

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine"

P-51 Mustang "Little Friend"

I had marked my calendar to attend The Wings of Freedom Tour at Laconia Airport to see the planes and take some pictures. I was excited about it. On display were two historical fighter boomers: a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine, and a B-24 Liberator "Witchcraft" with an escort fighter, North American P-51 named "Betty Jane."
I was able to actually tour the inside of the bombers, and found that the interior conditions were very tight and cramped. The crew, I was told, numbered 10 or 11. In that special place I could feel and imagine our brave flying crews bombing their targets during WW2...the dangers they experienced. Attending the Wings of Freedom Tour made me realize how brave our servicemen have always been, fighting for our freedom.
I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Earl "Smitty" Smith, who flew on the B-17 as a gunner in the belly turret. My husband mentioned to me that flying in the belly turret was the most dangerous place to be in the bomber. If they lost their landing gear, the gunners who flew in the belly turret would certainly lose their lives when the plane landed.
As I walked around I could hear several stories of flights and missions. There was a young woman there who knew all about her father's missions. He had been captured and made a prisoner of war. She had all the dates and research with her and proudly shared her story with a man who was most impressed with the extent of her knowledge about her father's tour of duty.
I had gone to Laconia Airport to take pictures but came away uplifted by a patriotic feeling that made me proud to be an American.


Sunny said...

This is a wonderful tour.
My Dad was in the RAF and a tail gunner during WW2. His plane was a Halifax bomber.
Thanks for sharing your pictures.
Sunny :)

mtrib2 said...

The photo's are great of the WW2 planes. My mother's 1st cousin's (thru my grandma)husband flew in the tail gunner during the war. Respectfully I remember that it had a severe impact on him in the following years. I believe it was his seeing up close the target's he was hitting. I cannot imagine what those soldiers went thru. I enjoyed reading your entry on this very important era of the U.S. against Japan and Germany. Wes (my uncle) fought against the Japanese I believe. mark/salty