The Commemorative Air Force B-29/B-24 Squadron is set to fly into Conway and lead community members through available plane ground-tours and flights this weekend at the Conway Municipal Airport.
Included in the tour, participants will welcome a B-24 Liberator, “Diamond Lil,” a T-6 Texan, a Boeing Stearman and a C-45 Expeditor Bucket of Bolts.
The squadron was created in the 1970s to support the B-28, “FIFI,” a Boeing B-29 Superfortress — first flown in 1942 and designed as a replacement for older bombers with a longer range and increased bomb load, the group’s website reads.
When a group from the Commemorative Air Force stumbled upon the aircraft being used as a missile target, it was rescued and restored for touring purposes until being grounded in 2006.
Now with more than 300 members, the group is based in Dallas but tours around the nation, showing off the impressive aircrafts.
This weekend, community members will have the opportunity to join pilots in air and on the ground, learning about the notable and significant historical attributes to each.
Bob Cantrell, a member of the local Experimental Aircraft Association, said this event is similar to the one the association held last year at the airport, which brought in a B-17 World War II plane.
He said last year’s and this year’s celebrations were held to promote Veterans Day and give the public a reason to come out to the airport and drive-up interest around the national holiday. During last year’s commemoration nearly 10 World War II veterans, among other war terms, were honored as well.
Cantrell said the 2017 day went “really well,” with the traveling company selling more than 140 tickets for flights.
“It just blew them away,” he said. “They had no idea they could sell that much.”
Cantrell said the crews were impressed with Conway, the airport and the people that came out.
“They were tickled to death,” he said.
The CAF has already sold some tickets for this weekend’s visit, Cantrell said, and everyone seems to be excited to have them out.
“Hopefully, we’ll sell enough tickets to make it worth their time,” he said.
On top of the history tours, there will also be a Veterans Day ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday at the airport.
Aircraft available for rides from 2-5 p.m.
Aircraft tours available after 2 p.m.
Aircraft available for rides all day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
B-24 flies at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Aircraft tours available after 12 p.m.
Aircraft available for rides from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Aircraft tours available during open time.
For available times on specific airplanes or to book a ride ahead of event days, visit www.airpowersquadron.org/conway-arkansas?fbclid=IwAR1xh49mG-j9FrrY7Krj2R4nQE9iGdMYX5MtsSPjkrrse2Vv1g2U_sUg-Hs.
Ground tours are $10 for adults and $5 for children, free under 10-years-old and includes B-24 cockpit tour when planes are available.
The Conway Municipal Airport is located at 3275 Sand Gap Road.
“Diamond Lil,” a 10-seated B-24 — first contracted to be built for France in 1940 and then later diverted to Great Britain as AM927 — was the 25th built out of a total of 18,482 and remains one of the last flyable, intact World War II bombers.
“You can relive history and ride on one of the rarest World War II bombers in existence by taking a ‘Living History’ BOMBER RIDE,” the event’s description on the website reads. “This unique in-the-air [experience] allows you to sit in the Veteran’s seat and see and feel what they encountered … minus the bullets and flak.”
The T-6 Texan served as the “classroom,” for most of the allied pilots who flew in World War 22 — a total of 15,495 were made — with total training numbers reaching the hundreds within 34 different countries over 25 years, the description on the website reads.
To read more about the four aircrafts attending this weekend’s event, visit www.airpowersquadron.org/conway-arkansas?fbclid=IwAR1Qvb39iRJtSGVG_pHOxoL2lmH-8FQLMr54B4SdNe8VoXnp7Ezbw5frnPc.