Aviation Events Flying Into Tri-Cities
May 30, 2015
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  • Whether you like World War II planes or vintage general aviation and experimental planes, something interesting will be in the skies over the Tri-Cities in June.

    The Wings of Freedom Tour flies into the Tri-Cities Airport for a return visit June 12-14. Later in the month, the ninth annual Aviation Celebration, formerly Richland Fly-In, will take over the Richland Airport on June 20.

    Wings of Freedom

    The Wings of Freedom returns to Pasco for the first time since 2012 with World War II aircraft from the Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation’s collection.

    Planes include the vintage Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine,” one of only eight such Boeing B-17 bombers still in flying condition in the United States.
    “It’s not a typical air show,” spokesman Hunter Chaney said. “It’s a true living history event. The planes are merely a catalyst for that. They’re like big flying memorials for our World War II veterans.”

    Also flying will be a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and North American Aviation P-51 Mustang.

    Tours of all the aircraft cost $12 for adults and $6 for children. Ground tours are free for World War II veterans. For those who want more, flights are available in the B-17 and B-24 for $450 per person or in the P-51 for $2,200 for a half hour or $3,200 for an hour.

    The P-51 flight costs more because only one passenger can go up at a time, compared with six to 10 people in a bomber. Chaney said the P-51 passenger can also spend time flying the plane. The plane is the only one of its kind left in the world with a full dual cockpit.

    “People who have never flown in a plane before have a chance to actually fly a fighter,” he said.

    The B-24, which belonged to Britain’s Royal Air Force, was left in the desert of India after the war and later salvaged when India started its own air force. Chaney said it was later purchased by a British collector and took 97,000 hours to restore to flying condition.

    Wings of Freedom also is hoping to have a North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber for the event.

    Wings of Freedom wanted to return to Pasco partly because of the work of Bergstrom Aircraft in Pasco.

    “They’re great hosts and Pasco, in general, has been a very receptive city for us to fly in to,” Chaney said.

    Tours of the planes are from 2 to 5 p.m. June 12, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 13 and 14. The flights are scheduled before and after the ground tours.

    The company travels to 110 cities and is seen by 4.5 million people annually, Chaney said.

    To make a flight reservation, call 800-568-8924.

    •The tour moves on to Walla Walla Regional Airport June 15-17. Ground tours are noon to 5 p.m. June 15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 16 and 9 a.m. to noon June 17. Prices will be the same as they are in Pasco.

    Aviation Celebration

    Planes from the early 1900s to present day will be on display at the Aviation Celebration, which starts with a pancake breakfast fundraiser for the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association at 7 a.m. June 20 at the airport off the bypass highway and Airport Way.

    Numerous kinds of aircraft will be on display from 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., including one from Pasco-based Viper Aircraft Company, which made homebuilt plane kits, said Sundance Aviation owner Clif Dyer, an event coordinator.
    Also on display will be a vintage Sopwith Camel, a British World War I biplane, that is being restored, he said.

    The highlights of the day are the 250 free 20-minute airplane rides for children from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is expected to have its 2,000th Young Eagles flight this year, Dyer said.

    Call Marjy Leggett at 509-547-4347 for information on the flights.
    Adults also can get off the ground in an MD 600 helicopter.

    The number of planes taking part is always uncertain until closer to the event because of weather and other factors, Dyer said.

    Organizers decided to change the name of the event because “fly-in” gave an impression of something exclusive for pilots, Dyer said.

    “Aviation Celebration pretty much is universal,” he said.