Do you like planes and history? Or are you a really big fan of movies like Captain Marvel, Independence Day, or Top Gun? Then I have some news for you: You’re a giant nerd, and there’s an awesome event coming to Fort Collins that’s going to check all of your boxes.

The Collings Foundation’s ‘Wings of Freedom’ Tour will be coming to the Northern Colorado Regional Airport from July 12-July 14, and is basically your front row seat to military and aviation history. First, not only does this tour sound as patriotic as Captain America riding in on a bald eagle, but the exhibit itself is a unique opportunity to get some one-on-one time with the vintage planes that fought in World War II. And when I say ‘one-on-one’ time, I genuinely mean it. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to explore five fully-equipped, fabulously-named WWII-era aircraft both inside and out, and if you’re really rolling in the dough, you can even take a 30-minute flight or get some flight training.

If you go to the event, here’s some of the vintage veterans you’ll be able meet:

1) B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine” – This B-17 is one of only 9 that are still able to get airborne in the U.S., which is pretty incredible considering that these heavy-hitting fliers were meant to make daytime bombing raids (i.e.: say hello to your flying tank). Practically packed to the brim with turrets and machine guns, these heavy bombers were used in attacks before the Normandy Invasion of 1944 and during the ‘carpet bombing’ raids before the Allied incursion into northern France later that year.


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2) B-24 Liberator “Witchcraft” – The Germans probably thought that this plane was being flown by witchcraft, because in spite of being able to carry up to 8,000 lbs. of bombs, this plane still flew farther and faster than the B-17s we just talked about. This craft in particular is the last B-24 Liberator that can still fly, too, making it the veritable Avatar of the aviation world (the cartoon one, not the blue alien one).


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3) B-25 Mitchell “Tondelayo” Bomber – These planes are best known for when they helped the U.S. strike back at the Japanese during the Doolittle Raid of 1942. Not sure what that is? Yeah, me neither—but it turns out that the Doolittle Raid was our immediate response after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The B-25s had enough range and carrying ability that they were able to mount surprise attacks on Tokyo, Kobe, Yokosuka, and Osaka, all in one flight.


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 4) P-51 Mustang “Toulouse Nuts” – Besides having the best name I’ve ever heard for a plane, ‘Toulouse Nuts’ has won the Grand Champion award for restoration and, it turns out, was responsible for a lot of other ‘firsts’ during the war. P-51 Mustangs were the first U.S.-built planes to go to Europe after the fall of France, the first single-engine planes to reach Berlin, and part of the first encompassing sweep to take down the infamous German Luftwaffe. So, you know. #Goals.

 

 

 

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5) P-40 Warhawk “Jaws” – This plane’s the newbie of the tour, and is one of the most recognizable machines from the war. Trust me—you’ll know the teeth when you see them. Although not the sleekest or the speediest, the Warhawks were like America’s flying, fighting Clydesdales: solid, reliable, and hardy. They were also the favorite of the Flying Tigers, a group of volunteer American fighter pilots who, in spite of shortages of fuel, pilots, and parts, consistently outwitted the Japanese air force in Burma and China. Which I feel like is a classic American mood, to be honest.

 

 

 

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These planes will be touching down at 3 p.m. tomorrow and taking off again at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 14. In the meantime, you’ll be able to tour the exhibit and display from 3-5 p.m. on Friday and from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12, which will get you an up-close viewing and tour of each of the aircraft. 30-minute flights on the B-17 or B-24 are $450 per person, and flights on the B-25 are $400 per person. If you’re interested in either the personal flight or the flight training opportunity, call this number: (800) 568-8924.

Finally, the Northern Colorado Regional Airport is located at the Loveland Jet Center, 4824 Earhart Rd.

So whether you like history, or planes, or honestly just need to get out of your house today, this event's for you. Trust us, it's going to be absolutely... fly.