WWII planes make stop in Yuma

YUMA, Ariz. – Actual WWII aircraft were in Yuma this week for a three day visit. The Wings of Freedom Tour is part of a nonprofit organization that offers flights inside the more than 70 year old pieces of history.

“Betty Jane” is a 2-seater P-51 Mustang and the only left of its kind.

On Tuesday, Canada resident Wayne Huddleston checked one thing off his bucket list.

“I’m about to go for a ride in probably the most thrilling plane that was ever built,” he said. “All my life I’ve wanted to fly in one of these all my life.”

The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour brings these relics to more than 110 cities around the country. Yuma is one of them.

“This area is very, very important in terms of WWII aviation history, so it’s a great way for us to kinda come and share what the past was here in Yuma with the current generation of folks here in Yuma.”

“This B-24 Liberator is an actual WWII aircraft. It rolled of the production line in 1943.”

It flew combat missions in India.

Then there’s the flying fortress put to use in 1945.

“It’s extremely rare to see these in an operating environment. This B-17 is one of only 6 that still fly,” flight organizer Ryan Keough explained.

I got the chance to ride in it Tuesday. Mac McCauley is the pilot.

“Proud to be in it, proud to be part of this great piece of history and part of this organization,” McCauley said.

He says flights like this one bring back so many memories for the veterans who take a ride. Like Carl Schwede who delivered fuel to B-17’s more than 60 years ago.

“I was drafted in the Army in the 1950’s, so here some odd 60 years later, I’m taking a ride in one of these,” Schwede told us.

While it’s a little pricey to take a flight — the cheapest option being 450 dollars — you can tour the planes for 12 bucks. The Wings Of Freedom Tour will be at Million Air until Wednesday afternoon.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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