Alden Smith, 94, is a resident here with us at Lutheran. He is a US Army Air Corps Veteran of 11 years having spent most of his service during WWII as an Airplane Mechanic. Alden worked primarily on B-24s, B-29s, and C-47s.
This week, the Collings Foundation brought their “Wings of Freedom” Tour to the Chautauqua County Airport with several WWII-era planes on display. One of them, a B-24 bomber named “Witchcraft”, was the same type of plane that Alden worked on during his service. In fact, of the 18,000 of them that were built, “Witchcraft” is the only combat configured B-24 in flying condition.
Alden got to take a trip to the airport with Erin, Activities Director at LHRC, to see the planes in person once more. During his time at the airport, several visitors and staff came over to thank him for his service, listened to stories from his time working on the planes, and share a lot of laughs together.
Alden was interviewed by the Robert H. Jackson Center in the spring of 2019 about his time during the service. The full interview can be viewed below.
About the Collings Foundation
The Collings Foundation is a nonprofit, Educational Foundation 501(c)3, founded in 1979. The purpose of the Foundation is to preserve and exhibit rare historical artifacts and to organize and support “living history” events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation.
The original focus of the Foundation was transportation-related events such as antique car rallies, hill climbs, carriage and sleigh rides, and a winter ice-cutting festival in the Stow, MA area. During the mid-eighties, these activities were broadened to include aviation-related events such as air shows, barnstorming, historical reunions, and joint museum displays on a nationwide level. Since 1989, a major focus of the Foundation has been the “Wings of Freedom Tour” of WWII aircrafts.
About the “Wings of Freedom” Tour
The “Wings of Freedom Tour” has two goals: to honor the sacrifices made by our veterans that allow us to enjoy our freedom; and to educate the visitors, especially younger Americans, about our national history and heritage. The Foundation encourages people to tour the planes, talk to the veterans who come to visit the aircraft, and participate in a “flight experience”. In twenty-six years, the tour has made more than 2,900 visits to airports across the United States and Alaska. While the exact number of visitors is difficult to gauge, it is estimated that between 3.5 and 4 million people see these warbirds annually.