Historic WWII-era planes land at Tri-Cities Airport this week

Blasts from the past have touched down in the tri-cities, giving onlookers a window into the history of war and the sacrifices men and women made in order to win said wars.

Jacques Robitaille, public information officer for the Commemorative Air Force’s AirPower History Tour, said two iconic WWII-era planes will be open for public tours starting Wednesday.

“These are living museum pieces,” Robitaille said. “Each of them has their own story.”

The two planes they chose to land in East Tennessee are a B-24 “Liberator” and a B-29 “Superfortress.”

He said the B-24 reached Europe in the spring of 1945, but the war ended before it could see combat. The government then decommissioned the plane, and it ended up in a California graveyard in the desert until a few years ago.

The B-29, on the other hand, was meant for the French, but France fell before the Allies could send it to them, so it went to the British instead. They used the plane primarily for training and cargo deliveries.

“Unlike the B-24, it has flown its entire life,” Robitaille said.

He said the purpose of keeping these planes in the air is to “honor, educate and inspire” people who observe them.

“The intent is to keep them flying so the public can see what they look like,” he said.

The landing comes on the heels of Memorial Day, in which the nation honored the memories of the men and women who gave their lives in military service to their country.

“As time goes on, we are losing our WWII veterans,” he said. “People will forget their sacrifices.”

He said this fact is important enough to do everything they can to preserve that history so people do not forget, important enough to gather hundreds of volunteers to keep these and many more historical planes flying.

“Young people need to understand the cost of their freedoms,” Robitaille said.

The planes currently rest at the Tri-Cities Airport in Blountville, located at 253 Airport Circle. Access to the ramp is $15 for adults and $8 for children 10 through 18.

The planes themselves will fly from Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the last days they will be at the airport for viewing.

“It is all about not forgetting,” Robitaille said. “Part of our mission is to commemorate the sacrifices made by the greatest generation.”

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