It is one thing to hear about World War II in a classroom, but to see, feel and smell the aircrafts of the era is an entirely different experience.
Area residents will have the opportunity to do just that as the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom tour visits the Williamsport Regional Airport starting Monday, bringing with it a B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 and P-51 Mustang fighter.
The exhibit will be available at the DeGol Jet Center, 580 S. Loyalsock Ave., from its arrival at about noon Monday until 5 p.m., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday.
"It's something quite unique," said Hunter Chaney, director of marketing for the foundation. "These planes are completely restored back to their original configurations."
Visitors will be able to tour the planes, learn about their uses and even get some "stick time" as they take control of them in the air.
Chaney said it's this experience of interaction that makes it a "very effective means to engage people in World War II history."
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour
WHEN: Noon to 5 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday; 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday
WHERE: DeGol Jet Center at Williamsport Regional Airport
"It's entertainment to the finest degree. It's one thing if you read about World War II history in a classroom setting ... you might remember something but to experience it is something you will never forget," he said. "It gives one a window to this time in history."
While also flying the aircrafts in honor of all World War II veterans, Chaney said it gives younger generations a better understanding of the time.
"It's so vitally important that we remember this time in world history. It's singularly the worst conflict we've had to endure since we've been on this planet and it wasn't too long ago," Chaney explained.
The tour visits about 110 cities a year and has been seen by about 4 million individuals each year, as well.
The B-24 and P-51 Mustang are the only ones of their kind still flying today.
"This is the last one of its type to fly in the world," Chaney said of the B-24.
And on top of seeing the planes, many times Chaney said veterans who flew the aircrafts volunteer their time to sit and talk about their experiences.
"That's what's so important. It's this interaction. When you hear the veterans' stories, it brings history to life," he said.
Chaney said after touring the aircrafts, individuals are usually thankful and appreciative of having this unique experience. And he said he hopes the exhibit is not the last time individuals will want to learn about the World War II era, but a starting point.
"I hope they take away a better understanding of what it would have been like (during that time)," Chaney said. "To have a better appreciation of what it's been like and I also hope it motivates people to want to learn more about this particular time in history."