The Commemorative Air Force AirPower History Tour is making it’s 5th annual return to the Branson this week.
The CAF AirPower History Tour will be bringing its featured line-up of iconic pieces of flying history to the Branson Airport, including the Boeing B-29 Superfortress named FIFI and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator named the DIAMOND LIL. The two bomber aircrafts will also be accompanied by a P-51 Mustang, a T-6 Texan, a PT-13 Stearman and a T-34 Mentor.
Starting on Wednesday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 22, the public will have their chance to get up close and personal with these historic aircrafts.
“We’re always happy to come back to Branson,” said CAF B29/B24 Squadron Public Information Officer Jacques Robitaille. “We’ve been coming here for the past five years and its always been a great stop for us. A lot of enthusiasm. A lot of good crowds. So that’s why we always want to come back there.”
When it comes to the two bombers, Robitallie explained that what makes these airplanes special is the fact they are not mock-ups and not replicas, but they are the real thing.
“Both of these airplanes were manufactured during the course of the war,” Robitaille said.
“They are one of two of each kind of airplane that are still flying,” “For the B-29 there were about 4,000 manufactured and this is one of two still flying. For the B-24 there were over 18,000 manufactured, and this is one of two still flying.”
Robitaille shared that this year is also a special year for the CAF, with the reintroduction of the B-24 to the tour line-up.
“The DIMOND LIL was down for an engine replacement for almost two years or so, so she hasn’t been on the tour circuit in a long time. So this year we’ve been flying her,” said Robitaille. “A number of her tour stops she’s been with the B-29 as well, so it’s a rare opportunity to see both airplanes in the same place at the same time.”
The AirPower History Tour travels with these planes all over North America giving the public the chance to view the aircrafts, visit with the pilots and even tour the B-29 and B-24 cockpits.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to get up and personal with these aircrafts and to be able to see them up close, see just how big they really are and how fragile they really are,” said Robitaille. “Just to get a sense of the sights and the sounds and the smells of what it was like to be in these airplanes during the war.”
While the tour of these historic aircrafts is unique among itself, the CAF takes things a step further by giving people a once-in-a-lifetime experience to ride in a piece of flying history.
Ticket prices to ride range between a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on which aircraft you want to ride in, how long the flight is and what seat you get to sit in during the flight.
Robitaille shared the mission of the CAF is multifaceted.
“We want to honor the men and women who built these airplanes. We want to educate the public on the role these airplanes served during the war and the sacrifices that were made by the men and women who built and flew them,” Robitaille said. “As well as to inspire young people to possibly pursue careers in aviation based on the excitement that they get out of coming out and seeing these planes fly.”
The aircrafts will be staged on the Branson Jet Center Ramp at the Branson Airport in Hollister. Daily access into the event is $20 for adults, $8 for children 10-17 and free for ages nine and under.
Robitaille explained that the admission price to get into the event covers tours of each airplane and the chance to get up inside the planes and tour the cockpits.
“Part of the idea here is we don’t want these planes to be museum pieces. A lot of World War II airplanes are sitting as displays in museums.
“You can’t get close to them. You can’t get inside them,” he said. “Here we’re taking these planes to the people and letting them get up close and really get a sense of what these airplanes were like.”
Event attendees are also encouraged to come out to the Branson Airport to experience one or all of the Aerobatic Air Shows by legendary Aerobatic Pilot Mike Galloway.
Air shows will be taking place on Friday, Sept. 20 at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Additional event activities will include a classic and military car show, music, food, and a flight simulator.
A portion of event proceeds and food sales will benefit the Branson Veterans Task Force and Civil Air Patrol Cadet Programs for area youth.
The event will be open to the public each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The B-29 will only fly on Saturday and Sunday at 9 and 10:30 a.m. and the B-24 will only fly on Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 and 11 a.m.
The supporting aircrafts will offer rides all five days of the event.
Visit AirPowerTour.org for additional event information.