I was looking for another photo and came across a few I had forgotten about. In 2002 the Collings Foundation flew several WWII aircraft into Tucson International Airport and provided tours.
Each year the foundation took a few aircraft and toured the country, allowing visitors to tour the aircraft and for a more substantial donation provide sightseeing flights. For those who simply toured the aircraft on the ground they allowed something special, allowing guests to climb through the aircraft and see the inside.
As the airport was just a few minutes from work I had to take advantage of this opportunity. Deb met me for lunch and we headed over together to see the aircraft.
There were three aircraft in the tour… A B-24 Liberator, a P-51 Mustang, and the B-17 Flying Fortress Nine-O-Nine. It was a throughly enjoyable tour, seeing these beautifully restored aircraft up close. The engineer in me was enthralled by the miles of cabling and piping lining the walls, by the mass of indicators and switches in the cockpits.
Climbing through you got a glimpse of what it must have been like for the crews to fly over Germany in those cramped spaces. To face fighters and antiaircraft fire in the bitter cold at 30,000ft.
The photos of Nine-O-Nine are particularly poignant. One year ago today Nine-O-Nine crashed on takeoff at Windsor Locks, Connecticut killing seven of the thirteen people onboard and destroying this beautiful aircraft.