Enthusiasts get close-up look at WWII planes with Wings of Freedom tour

A North American B-25 Mitchell carrying MAPS Tour Guide Bob George, 85, of Jackson Township, taxis back to the museum Friday during the Wings of Freedom Tour.


By EMILY MILLS | The Repository, Canton, Ohio | Published: August 10, 2019

GREEN, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — A young Illinois couple were set to be married at the end of 1941.

But when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, Army Capt. Wyett Colclasure and Army nurse Nila Powell moved up their wedding, marrying a week later.

Nearly eight decades later, their son flew inside a World War II-era plane Friday at the MAPS Air Museum in Green.

"I've already done the B-17, and I've already done a Ford Trimotor, so we're ticking them off," said Wyett Colclasure II, 76, of Salem, Illinois, who spent 30 years in the Army and flew on a B-25.

Colclasure's flight was part of the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour, which the MAPS Air Museum is hosting this weekend for visitors to explore and learn more about World War II-era aircraft. According to the Massachusetts-based nonprofit educational foundation, many aircraft were scrapped after the war for raw aluminum, so few were spared.

The tour, in its 30th year, includes five rare bomber and fighter aircraft that arrived at the museum Friday afternoon.

The B-17 Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine" is one of only nine in flying condition in the United States, while the B-24 Liberator "Witchcraft" is the sole remaining example of its type flying in the world. The B-25 Mitchell "Tondelayo" is best known for being used in the Doolittle raid.

The P-51 Mustang "Toulouse Nuts" was known as the bombers' "Little Friend," saving crews from attacking Axis fighters. New to the tour, which includes stops in 110 cities, is the P-40 Warhawk "Jaws," best known for being part of the Flying Tigers.

MAPS tour guide Bob George, 85, of Jackson Township won a drawing to ride on the B-25. He took a bus to Dayton, the planes' previous stop, and took the noisy 50-minute ride back to Green on the plane, which could only be accessed using a ladder.

"Just like a souped-up Model T," said George, who served in the Army from 1953 to 1955.

Across the ramp, father Chris Myers, 82, and daughter, Gretchen Myers, 56, both of Kent, were searching for the name of their daughter and sister, 1st Sgt. Jennifer Myers, on the B-17.

Jennifer died of cancer on Veterans Day 2014, just before she was planning to retire from the Army after 19.5 years. Her husband donated to the Collings Foundation, which put her name on the B-17.

After searching for a few minutes, they found Jennifer's name near the plane's nose.

"Your daughter made it on the side of a plane," Gretchen told her father, who served in the Navy for four years.

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Army 1st Sgt. Jennifer Myers of Kent, Ohio, has her name painted on the side of a B-17 Flying Fortress. Myers died of cancer just before retiring after 19 years of service. (GateHouse Media Ohio / Jeff Lange)

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