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Airport Spreads Its Wings

Van Nuys facility welcomes back public with shows of vintage planes this weekend.

October 17, 2002|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

Promising to give children a history lesson and take old-timers down memory lane, military aircraft from World War II will be on display at two free shows this weekend at Van Nuys Airport.

The first show, part of the Freedom Tour national exhibition, will run Friday, Sunday and Monday. It will feature a rare B-17 Flying Fortress, along with 10 other vintage aircraft. The second show, an airport open house Saturday, will include all the planes from the Freedom Tour plus about 20 other aircraft.

The airport suspended its public tour program and its popular annual air show after Sept. 11 because of security concerns, financial difficulties and a lack of support from the military, spokeswoman Stacy Geere said. But officials recently resumed group tours and have scheduled an air show for next June to celebrate the airport's 75th anniversary and the centennial of the Wright brothers' first flight.

Saturday's open house, sponsored by Los Angeles World Airports, will kick off with a flyover of vintage AT-6 Texans, which were used to train fighter pilots during World War II.

The B-17 is the featured attraction of the Freedom Tour. The exterior of the plane can be viewed for free, but visitors must pay $5 per person or $10 per family to tour the interior. A half-hour ride on the plane costs $395 per passenger, said Elliot L. Sanders, president of the Van Nuys Propeller Aircraft Assn.

"It's an incredibly beautiful aircraft," said Sanders, who is also an event coordinator for the bomber's owner, the Experimental Aircraft Assn.'s Aviation Foundation based in Oshkosh, Wis.

Other aircraft on display at the Freedom Tour include a B-25 Mitchell bomber, two P-51 Mustangs, a BT-13 Vultee trainer, a single-engine Navion and a home-built Cirrus VK-30, Sanders said.

The Freedom Tour will start at 8 a.m. each day and end at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Sunday and noon on Monday at the Synchro facilities at 7701 Woodley Ave.

Saturday's open house will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 8030 Balboa Blvd. Free parking and shuttle bus service will be provided from remote parking lots at Birmingham and Monroe high schools and Cal State Northridge.

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