WWII Pilots’ Legacies Preserved in Planes They Flew

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Classic, World War II-era planes are on display at McClellan Air Field this weekend.

Despite the shrinking number of living WWII pilots, their legacies will live on through these planes.

“My husband did 32 missions in World War II, and I’m doing this in his honor,” Iris Taggart said. She organized the effort to bring in a fighter and three bombers to McClellan.

The planes belong to The Collings Foundation, a non-profit group that preserves historic aircraft.

For many, these planes represent a piece of family history.

While each plane has art, they were built as weapons during the war and killed many of the enemy. But they also saved hundreds of American lives, as James Coleman remembers.

“I’d be surprised how some of them would come in, part of the wing shot off,” Coleman, a former Marine who served in Iwo Jima, said. “How the heck did he get back here, you know?”

William Dave was stationed at McClellan when many of these planes were still active, but his fondest memories with the craft aren’t exactly combat missions.

“The pilots here who were all my friends would call me up and say, ‘We’re going to Mobile, Alabama. You want to go?’ Yeah. And then, ‘Grab your golf clubs and come,'” he told FOX40.

Taggart’s husband flew over Europe in a B-17 like the one on display this weekend.

“It’s just love when I see that B-17 or even hear the noise,” Taggart said. “It strikes up a bell with me big time and I think of my husband.”

The planes will be on display through Sunday. A 30-minute flight in one of the bombers is $400.

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