Casper residents may have heard some loud airplanes circling over town recently. If you were lucky enough to see them flying you were witnessing a slowly vanishing piece of history. This weekend the Collings Foundation has brought a few of their WWII warbirds to the Casper/Natrona County International Airport. The return of a couple of the planes to Casper is especially significant given our WWII history.
The current Casper/Natrona County International airport sits on the former WWII era Casper Army Air Base. In fact, if you've flown out of Casper, you've flown on WWII runways, as the airport uses the same runways--just repaved over the years. This also allowed our airport to be one of the few airports in the country cleared to land the space shuttle in an emergency, due to the length of our runways--since they were originally designed for WWII bombers. CAAB was responsible for training about 16,000 airmen on B-17 and B-24 bombers during the war. Casper's high winds and high altitude provided a tough and necessary training environment for their future bombing missions in Europe. In a sense, seeing the B-24 and B-17 on the tarmac is like seeing them come "home." Nestled among the modern airport terminal are about 90 of the original 400 WWII air base buildings. In order to see the planes guests get a chance to walk through Goods Warbirds hangar which is one of the original CAAB WWII bomber hangars.
Aside from the B-17 and B-24 the Collings Foundation has also brought a B-25 Mitchell bomber. The B-25 is perhaps best known from the infamous Doolittle Raid on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Although there were no B-25's at CAAB, Jimmy Doolittle himself visited the air base following his historic raid and gave a special program for soldiers in the Enlistedmen's Club--which now houses the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum. Visiting the museum is like walking in Doolittle's footsteps!
In addition to the three bombers there is also a P-51 Mustang to see. All the planes are available to look at and to fly in! The planes are parked at Goods Warbirds at the airport.
The Collings Foundation schedule and admission fees are listed below:
Walk Through Tour Times (no reservations needed):
7/10/2016 – 9:00 AM till 5:00 PM
$12 Adults / $6 Children 12 and under.
Flights take place before and after tours.
30-minute flight on the B-17 or B-24 is $450 per person
30-minute flight on the B-25 is $400 per person
30-minute flight training on the P-51C is $2200
60-minute flight training on the P-51C is $3200
Call 978-562-9182 for flight reservations.