Sunday, July 24, 2016

You gotta give the Whiteside County Airport (KSQI) its props: Wheels are barely up on one show, and another one is on its way

A herd of Van's RV6/6A single-engine planes take off from the Whiteside County Airport Saturday morning. The pilots spent the weekend in Rock Falls, taking in lectures and workshops, and practicing for a fly-in.

Several Van's RV6/6A single engine aircraft take off from the Whiteside County Airport Saturday morning.


A Van's RV6/6A single engine aircraft comes in for a landing Saturday morning at the Whiteside County Airport. A large group of pilots used the airport to practice flying in formation for the upcoming Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In in Oshkosh Wisconsin.

ROCK FALLS – If you missed the flight of fancy at the Whiteside County Airport over the weekend, don’t fret. There’s more fun waiting in the wings, and this time, the attraction will be a quartet of planes that Rosie the Riveter would be proud of.

This past weekend, the airport rolled out the welcome mat on its tarmac for 30 RV6/RV6A planes and their pilots, and 5 support craft. The planes came in for a landing Friday and headed out Sunday on their way to Wisconsin. The fleet of little fliers flew into the airport en route to the annual Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In in Oshkosh.

While at the airport, the pilots attended workshops and lectures, and practiced for the fly-in as spectators watched. Then it was on to Wisconsin for the real thing, which is being held to celebrate the plane’s 30th anniversary.

But that’s not the only show the airport will host; another one is coming to town – and this time, it’s a show of strength, as four of the planes that helped win the war for America will be at the airport.

Fans of flight – and history – are in for a real treat: four rare, fully restored WWII bomber and fighter aircraft will be on display at the airport Wednesday though Friday as part of the Collings Foundation's national Wings of Freedom Tour. The four stars of the 110-city living history tour are the B-17 Flying Fortress “Nine O Nine;” the B-24 Liberator, “Witchcraft;” the B-25 Mitchell bomber "Tondelayo;" and the P-51 Mustang fighter, "Betty Jane."  The B-17, B-25, P-51 and B-24 were the backbone of the American war effort from 1942 to 1945, and were famous for their ability to sustain damage and still accomplish their mission.

There aren’t many chances to see planes like this, much less see them in action. The B-17 is one of only eight in the United States still in flying condition and the B-24J and full dual control P-51C Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the world, the foundation said in a news release.

After the war, many planes were scrapped for their raw aluminum, and the rarity of these planes, and their importance to telling the story of WWII, is why the Collings Foundation continues to fly and display the aircraft nationwide, the release said

The planes will be available for ground tours at the airport, 10950 Hoover Road, from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday; and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday. The cost to tour the planes is $12 for those 12 and older, $6 for those 11 and younger, and free to WWII vets. Discounted rates are available for school groups.

Those who want to stop and see the planes from the outside can do so for free.

In addition, 30-minute flights on the B-25 will be available $400 per person; the B-17 or B-24 cost $450 per person; while P-51 flights are $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour. The 30-minute flights are scheduled before and after the ground tours. Call 800-568-8924 for reservations or more information on the flights. Go to to learn more about the foundation.

Veterans and their families are especially encouraged to visit and to share their experiences and stories with the public.

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