Scott Culver's father, Henry Culver Sr., flew a B-24 bomber from England over France and Germany, performing 30 combat missions during World War II. He said the B-24 on display Wednesday through Friday at Morristown Municipal Airport was one of only three left in existence—that is, until a technician at the event noted today, only the one standing before them remained.
"I stand corrected," the South Plainfield resident noted. "This is it."
Such is the finite nature of this living history, now over 60 years old.
Participating in the Collings Foundation’s "Wings of Freedom Tour" are the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine” heavy bomber, consolidated B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” heavy bomber and P-51 Mustang fighter.
The B-17 is one of only 10 in flying condition in the United States, while both the B-24 and P-51 Mustang are the only remaining planes of their kind in the world.
Whippany resident Ed Luoma was 19 years old when stationed in Leyte, Phillipines during the war. He said as the years pass, it gets harder to remember the planes such as those on display at the airport. Al Parsons, of Whitehouse Station remembers them flying over his farm in Canada when he was five-years-old.
It seemed many of the attendees had a story to tell, whether through personal experience or from family history.
Greg Evans, of Whippany, remembers stories of his grandfather and his experiences of flying in World War II.
Tim Blixt, of Wayne, crawled out of the B-17 on display, wiping sweat from his brow. "It's a little toasty in there," he said. "It's a little tighter, too. I think we're all getting a little fatter."
Outside, Blixt walked over to the "belly gunner," noting his father, Gustav Blixt, manned that part of the plane.
As the planes continue to age, as well as those who experienced the war firsthand, Blixt said, "if this isn't an educational experience for the kids, I don't know what is."
The "Wings of Freedom" tour will be on display at Morristown Municipal Airport until noon Friday. Then it will head to Monmouth Executive Airport in Belmar over the weekend. For more information, visit the Collings Foundation website.