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(Enlarge) Dennis Gore, of Westminster, with a model of a B-24 Liberator, is one of the local organizers of the Wings of Freedom Tour coming to Carroll County Regional Airport, Oct. 16-19. (Staff photo by Drew Anthony Smith)

Dennis Gore Jr. of Westminster loves the elegance and the stories behind the World War II bombers that will come at the Carroll County Regional Airport next weekend.

But he's the first to admit the love of flying in them is a little less certain.

"I'm not that great of a fan of flying," Gore said.

But he has done it — and said the experience more than made up for his nervousness.

"The thrill of being on those planes overrides the uneasiness," he said. "At that height, you can see the landscape. The patch quilt farmlands are beautiful."

Gore is the principal organizer of the nonprofit Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour, which will touch down Friday, Oct. 16, to Monday, Oct. 19, at Carroll County Regional Airport's Skytech Inc., 200 Airport Drive, Westminster.

This is the fifth year the Massachusetts-based foundation has held an event in Westminster.

Three of the foundation's vintage, fully-restored World War II aircraft — a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and a one-of-a-kind P-51 Mustang Razorback fighter plane — will be available throughout the weekend for ground tours and rides.

In addition, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 6:30 to 9 p.m., the airport will host a 1940s-theme "hangar dance," complete with food and big band music from the group, Never Too Late — a band composed of Carroll Lutheran Village residents.

The cost for the dance is $10, though it's free for WWII veterans.

Gore said he's no different from his generational peers when it comes to interest in World War-era history.

"We either had parents, grandparents or other relatives in the war, and we all grew up listening to their stories," he said.

Those veterans are the real story behind the planes, he said.

Gore's father, Dennis Gore Sr., joined the Navy at age 17 in 1943, after his two older brothers, Marvin and Murray, enlisted.

Marvin and Murray were killed during Naval Armed Guard training in San Francisco, Gore said.

His father was part of a gun crew on a Liberty ships in the Pacific Theater — where his ship was sunk.

"He and several others managed to get on this raft, but it had no oars," he said. "It floated to Saipan, which was then an enemy-held island."

Gore Sr. was held in Saipan for nine weeks until the island was liberated by the United States in 1945.

Gore also had an uncle, Harry Moore, who saw time on B-17s over England. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge, and also came home with a unique story to tell. Gore said his uncle was trapped in a tunnel or cave -- and by the time he was rescued, his hair had turned snow white.

Gore said hearing veterans' stories is one of the benefits of working on the Wings of Freedom Tour.

"Some people are (eager), willing and enjoy sharing their stories," he said. "Others don't want to mention it."

The bombers that will be on display next weekend were capable of making it deep into Germany and return to England during World War II with enough fuel and power to get the job done, said Henry Erck Jr., 76, of Timonium, another local coordinator of the tour.

But the real feat is what the men at the controls did, he said.

"We would like to have as many World War II veterans and Air Force people to stand by the plane and tell their stories, because their stories are not being told," Erck said.

Erck's interest in the planes began years ago, when he wanted to fly in a B-17. He didn't during his service years because he was in the Army -- the four- to five-year commitment in the Air Force was a little long for him, he said.

But he saw remnants of what the bombers could do when he witnessed blown-out buildings in Munich during his tour of Germany from 1955-57.

It wasn't until 2000 — when he took a ride — when he could feel the power of one of those planes.

"The first thing that came out of my mouth was, 'Wow,'" he said.

Gore said the younger generation is often wowed by the planes and the veterans at Wings of Freedom events — and that's a good thing.

"Thankfully, a lot of young people do show up and do want to hear about these stories and want to know about these planes," he said. "It's up to them to make sure history is not forgotten."

This year, another way the tour will help to teach history is through re-enactors who will be on hand. A group also will set up an encampment at the airport, Gore said.

For those who want to experience history in the air, flights are available ranging from $425 to $3,200 and are tax-deductible.

Passengers will have a chance to wonder around the plane, examine the gun positions and take photos.

"It's like Southwest Airlines," he said. "You're now free to roam about the cabin."

Wings of Freedom

The Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour will touch down at Westminster's Carroll County Regional Airport on Friday, Oct. 16 and remain at the airport through Monday, Oct. 19.

Three of the foundation's vintage, fully-restored World War II aircraft -- a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and a P-51 Mustang fighter plane -- will be available throughout the weekend for ground tours and rides.

Hours for ground tours of the aircraft are:

* Friday, Oct. 16, 2-5 p.m.

* Saturday, Oct. 17, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

* Sunday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and

* Monday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-noon.

For ground tours, a donation of $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12 is requested.

Limited flights aboard the craft are also available, and must be scheduled in advance. Depending on the plane and the duration of the flight, prices range from $425 to $3,200. Flight fees serve as donations to the nonprofit Collings Foundation and are tax deductible.

To schedule a flight or for additional information, call 410-751-5016, 410-790-5803 or 978-562-9182.

In addition, the airport will host a 1940s-theme "hangar dance," complete with food and big band music from the group, Never Too Late, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 6:30 to 9 p.m. The cost is $10 (free for WWII veterans). Olive Garden will provide a buffet dinner.


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