Historic aircraft coming to Terre Haute

·4 min read

Jul. 2—Four historic World War II aircraft will soon touch down at Terre Haute Regional Airport from July 7-10.

It's part of a four-day tour of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Air Power History Tour. The CAF, formerly known as the Confederate Air Force, is a Texas-based non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and showing historical aircraft at airshows, primarily throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The rumble of radial engines from two of the rarest World War II bombers — the B-29 Superfortress and the B-24 Liberator — will be heard over the skies of Terre Haute as rides can be purchase for flights on those aircraft, as well as the P-51 Mustang and T-6 Texan.

The planes can also be viewed and boarded when not flying.

"The rides on the aircraft are special, but when the planes are not flying, we open them up for cockpit tours all day. Folks can get up into the airplanes, go through the bomb bays and get up into the cockpit area and get a real sense of what these aircraft were like to fly in," said CAF spokesman Jacques Robitaille.

"We like to say that we are a traveling museum in the sense that we bring these planes to the people and we allow people to get up close and personal, to touch them and see them and see them fire up and take off. It is a unique experience...and get a real sense of the power of these aircraft," Robitaille said.

The aircraft will be staged at Hoosier Aviation located at the Terre Haute airport at 581 S. Airport St.

When not flying for rides, the aircraft can be seen at the airport from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. To see the aircraft, the cost is $20 for adults; $10 for children age 11-17 and free for children age 10 and under.

The T-6 and the PT-13 will be offering rides all four days. The P-51 will be offering rides beginning at 1 p.m. July 8. The B-29 flies on July 9 and July 10 at 9 a.m. and 10:30 am.

For the B-29, called FiFi, the 10:30 a.m. flight is already sold out, according to the Air Power Tour, but the 9 a.m. flight still has tickets available. For the B-24, called Diamond Lil, both flights on July 9 are sold out. However, the July 10 fights are still available.

Rides may be booked in advance at www.airpowersquadron.org/terrehaute-in.

Cockpit tours of the B-29 and B-24 will be available each day starting at 9 a.m., except on Saturday and Sunday when they will begin at noon.

About the aircraft:

—The B-29 Superfortress "Fifi," the largest and most technically advanced aircraft of its time, was first flown in 1942. It began active service in the U.S. Army Air Corp in 1944, and is best known as the aircraft whose missions over Japan helped bring an end to World War II. The B-29 also was used in the Korean War in the early 1950s and was a staple of the U.S. Air Force until 1960. "Fifi," one of only two B-29's in the world still flying, was acquired by the CAF in 1971. The aircraft began touring in 1974.

—The B-24 Liberator "Diamond Lil" was the most produced American warplane of WWII with over 18,400 aircraft rolling off assembly lines across the country. Most were manufactured at Ford's giant Willow Run assembly plant in Detroit. Diamond Lil was one of the first B-24's produced and is one of only two B-24's in the world still flying.

—The P-51D Mustang is one of the most recognizable and loved aircraft in aviation history. With its speed, range, and sleek lines, the P-51 became a favorite of Allied fighter pilots and bomber crews. The long-range fighter aircraft had a range of 1,300 miles that enabled it to accompany the bombers to their targets and back, and it was faster and more maneuverable than its German and Japanese opponents.

—The T-6 Texan, known as the "Pilotmaker," was an advanced flight trainer that introduced new pilots to a complex aircraft with more speed of over 200-plus miles per hour, to prepare them for the warbirds they would fly in combat in WWII. The T-6 was designed for an instructor and student, and had a closed cockpit.

The CAF as a fleet of more than 170 World War II airplanes assigned to unit locations across the U.S. and are supported by 12,000 volunteer members. Nearly all the aircraft are kept in flying condition, enabling people to experience firsthand the sight and sound of vintage military aircraft in flight.