BETHANY — Crawling through the belly of the plane, hands brushed along the side of bombs tucked underneath.
It took some coaxing from Chris Monroe to get his 4-year-old son Landon up into the rear deck of the B-24J Liberator Heavy Bomber, but once there Landon explored everything around him — machine guns poking out of the window, radio controls lying about for him to pretend to use, and the narrow catwalk that passed over the bomb bay that led to the cockpit.
Monroe, who is in the Air Force and works as an AWACS radio technician, said he has always had a love for planes and judging by the model bomber clutched in his son's hand, he's crazy about them, too.
When he heard about Wings of Freedom Tour that flew into Wiley Post Airport on Friday, which features several rare and legendary World War II planes on display, he said he knew it was an event he couldn't pass up.
“He loves planes, we have a ton of toy versions of them,” Monroe said. “When I heard about this, I just thought it was the perfect opportunity for him to get out here and see the real thing.”
The tour is sponsored by the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation, and features several working World War II-era planes, including a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, a P-51 Mustang fighter and the B-24 bomber.
Lesson for son
Monroe said it's a thrill for him to be able to show this kind of history to his son.
“I'm a big World War II buff and it's always good to remember history and it's always good to pass it on to him,” Monroe said. “It gives you real appreciation for the guys who flew on these.”