The Wings of Freedom Tour, which showcases World War II planes and provides private flights, opened on Monday at the Waco Jet Center next to Waco Regional Airport.

The traveling museum features a B-24 bomber, P-51 Mustang fighter plane, a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter and other aircraft.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Nathan McKinney, 99, visited on Monday. Decades ago, he worked as a mechanic on B-24 planes.

“Man, I tell you what. When you went to war with them, they’re something else,” McKinney said. “It was good to see it. I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again, at my age. But I enjoyed seeing it.”

“We’d work night and day on them to get them ready to fly again,” he recalled.

Amy Hensel, of Waco, took an hourlong jaunt in a P-51 Mustang fighter plane with pilot Chuck Gardner. The ride included loops and flips, making for an uncommon Monday.

“It was very exhilarating,” she said. “It was so much fun and worth every penny of it. It was just beautiful.”

The tour last came to Waco two years ago, but rain prevented any flights from taking off.

The tour, operated by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit The Collings Foundation, lasts until Thursday. Admission is $15 and $5 for children 11 years old or younger. World War II veterans tour the planes for free.

“Ideally, we want to connect those kids to the vets before we lose the last of the vets,” said Jamie Mitchell, coordinator on the tour. “So that they can hear those stories firsthand, and hear it’s not a movie, it’s not a video game, it’s not a comic book. It’s real life, and if you don’t really respect it — the cliché is — you’re doomed to repeat it.”

It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Flight prices are found at

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

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