Collings Foundation – An Important Message

Some of the Collings Foundation's beautiful aircraft in happier times. Our hearts go out to all those affected by the loss of 909 right now... (image courtesy of Britt Dietz)

There is nothing more important to our aviation-minded community at present than the lives of those affected by the tragedy in Windsor Locks, Connecticut last week, nor our fervent wish for the speedy and complete recovery of those still recuperating.

However, in the aftermath of all that’s happened, it has also been hard to avoid the persistent concern that we may be on the brink of seeing the dramatic curtailment – or even the end – of the Living History Flight Experience (LHFE) program which permits us to fly aboard vintage military aeroplanes. For many such aircraft, and indeed the museums that own them, this is their sole, viable economic means for continued operation.

While safety must always be paramount – and there will no doubt be valuable lessons we can learn from the NTSB investigation into the loss of 909 – it is also important to remember their excellent safety record thus far, especially in comparison to other modes of transport. These Flight Experiences have provided our community with something of great value, in both tangible and intangible ways, that may not be immediately recognizable to those on the outside. From a financial perspective, these aircraft support a significant industry across the country which has created thousands of jobs and contributions to the national economy. But more importantly, these aircraft bring us together – from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds – in the joyful celebration of our collective heritage.

As such, we must all do our part to inform those people making decisions concerning LHFE about the important roles the program plays in our lives, and why it should – why it must – continue.

We must remind everyone of the emotional power that these aircraft still maintain; that visceral connection between past and present – forging bonds between multiple generations in ways that are so much harder by most other means. Each of us who served, or has a veteran in the family, and each of us who has flown aboard one of these aircraft, or seen them fly, understands this bond. We learn about our past – and ourselves – by seeing and flying aboard such aircraft. We each have a personal story about what those experiences have meant to us…

Now is the time to tell them…

The Collings Foundation released a statement yesterday, which could help us in this process. Please read their words, and the links they provide below, to learn how you too can tell your personal story to those whom need to hear from you. That being said, please remember the importance of civil discourse – invective and vitriol will always lose the argument!

Richard Mallory Allnutt – Editor

Dear supporters,

Please join the Collings Foundation in our thoughts and prayers with those who were on the tragic flight of the B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine-O-Nine” on Wednesday, October 2nd. We will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley International Airport and the assistance of all local agencies in the days after the crash.

The Collings Foundation team has been and remains fully cooperative with officials to determine the cause of the crash and we will comment further when facts and details become available. We have suspended the Wings of Freedom Tour for the remainder of the 2019 season and the aircraft have returned to our winter maintenance base in Florida.

The mission of the Collings Foundation remains steadfast in the goal of making history come alive as we have for over 30 years. Since 1989, the Wings of Freedom Tour has touched the lives of millions, as we have made visits to over 3600 communities in that time. Tens of thousands have flown aboard our Living History Flight Experiences (LHFE) on the B-17, B-24, B-25, and A-1E and flight training on the TP-51C, TF-51D, and TP-40N. In the past week we have received many stories on how powerful and life-changing the tour has been for families and as we move forward, and we expect there are thousands more who have been touched by the Wings of Freedom Tour.

In the coming months, federal agencies will be reviewing the LHFE program for not only our organization, but many other organizations nationwide who continue to fly vintage aircraft as a part of their educational mission. As these reviews take place, we feel it is important for the voices of those impacted by the Wings of Freedom Tour over the years to be heard. We need to let federal agencies know that the LHFE program is important to you and other American citizens as an educational tool. 

Please take a moment to add your comments to the current docket regarding the renewal of the Collings Foundation LHFE program with the FAA at the Federal Register. You may do so online at the following link:

As you write your comment, please review the tips for submitting effective comments from at

Thank you for your support of our living history mission.

Best regards,
Rob Collings
Executive Director



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