Flying history is landing in Aurora this weekend. A fleet of World War II planes are on display and even taking people on rides over the Oregon countryside.
“It’s something we do most Father’s Day. I remember coming here a few years ago with my dad and it's just something we've kept on going to,” said Aurora resident Rochelle Pringle, who was at the event Saturday with her children. “All history is important, but this, they actually get to see the physical history and learn more from the older generations.”
Families like hers came out to see the World War II planes and to hear stories like HJ Luke's.
“It was pretty scary, I’ll tell you that. Very afraid all the time because you always thought you were going to get shot down,” said Luke, a World War II veteran. “I was 21, the whole crew was 21 … I flew 30 missions and 28 on this one here.”
He added, “This plane never got shot down. It made 144 missions over Germany and France and no one was ever killed on it. It was a miracle plane.”
This B-17 is one of only a handful still flying today.
“We had 600 holes in it, but no one ever died on it,” said Luke. “It was a miracle plane.”
Even with the holes, his miracle plane still made it through the war and took him and other World War II veterans up for one more flight – this time over the peaceful Pacific Northwest skies.
“I took a trip on the B-17 that I flew 75 years ago,” Luke said.
It’s all part of the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour. The group flies into towns all across the country, letting people see the planes up close and taking some for rides in the historic bombers.
“It was very nice seeing beautiful country,” Luke said. “I never seen that kind of country before when we were flying combat missions because it was up 30,000 feet.”
The planes take off Sunday night and will continue their nationwide tour. Their next stop is Bremerton, Washington.
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