Historic World War II airplanes made a stop in Fort Worth this week

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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To learn more about the Collings Foundation and airplane tours visit www.collingsfoundation.org

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To learn more about the Collings Foundation and airplane tours, visit www.collingsfoundation.org.

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FORT WORTH -- The sight of the B-24 Liberator at Meacham Airport brought memories rushing back to Hugh Rogers.

The radio operator and waist gunner during World War II remembered worrying with the rest of the crew that the B-24 they flew from San Diego to Hawaii was going to run out of gas short of their destination.

He remembered taking anti-aircraft fire from the Japanese while taking photographs above the Pacific Ocean with a high-powered camera.

He recalled planning his escape if the plane should ever hit water.

"You remember the people who were there with you," said Rogers, 91, of Hurst. "I've got a lot of memories from that war."

Rogers was among the visitors Tuesday to view the collection of historic planes on display at the airport in north Fort Worth. The restored B-24, a P-51 Mustang and B-17 Flying Fortress are part of the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour.

The nonprofit foundation founded in 1979 has two goals: to honor sacrifices made by veterans and to educate visitors, particularly younger people, about their national history and heritage.

The foundation tours the planes across the country 10 months out of the year, said Tim Ruhl, a co-pilot with the foundation.

Tours of the aircraft cost $12 for adults and $6 for children.

The planes will remain on display until noon today before flying to Lawton, Okla.

World War II veterans appreciate seeing the planes.

"Some of them aren't real pleasant memories, because war was not pleasant," he said. "But it had to be done. Those guys ... it was just their duty and they went."

The aircraft have connections to North Texas, according to the city of Fort Worth. The P-51 was built by North American Aviation in Grand Prairie, and the B-24J was built by Consolidated Aircraft in Fort Worth in 1944.

World War II veterans weren't the only visitors Tuesday. John Gorospe of Bedford had the day off and took his son, John, 5, a young airplane enthusiast, so he could peek into the planes. Gorospe said he was struck by the tight quarters inside.

"I guess back in the day when you were flying it must have helped to have been a pretty small person because it is cramped in there," he said. "But the planes look like they're in great shape. It was fun looking through them."

Rogers said the friendships he made aboard the B-24 lasted for decades.

He and some of the flight crew often got together over the years and reminisced about their time flying out of Guadalcanal and Guam.

"We're shared a lot of stories," he said. "It was always great to see them."

Alex Branch, 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1

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