The Collins Foundation carry out a tour throughout the country with their vintage aircraft showing them off to many communities, sharing a message about what people did in the Second World War and providing an opportunity to ride in some historic machinery. I have seen them in the past while we lived in Chicago. Their tour this year brought them through the Bay Area with stops at Moffett Field and Livermore. Since the latter is close to home, I went along to see them.
The part of the collection that they bring on tour includes a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and a North American P-51 Mustang. I headed over to Livermore ahead of their planned arrival time and plenty of people had already gathered to see them come in. We all waited for a while and then the B-17 appeared over the hills. It made its approach and landed a short while before the B-24 showed up and followed suit. The P-51 was last of the three making a nice pass before landing. What I hadn’t anticipated was a B-25 Mitchell was also following them in. A quick turnaround and the three main players were soon launching off for flights with expectant passengers.
At this point I headed off as I had other things to do. Later in the day I came back and managed to catch an evening launch of the B-17. The following evening I had more free time so came back again. Another evening launch and recovery as the light got better and better. Then, as everyone packed up, the Collings team was kind enough to let me take some shots around the ramp. A local P-51 was parked up while the Collings P-51 had disappeared somewhere. As the sun set, I shot around the various aircraft and included a cracking 1937 Oldsmobile that one of the volunteers had brought along. With the light fading, the ramp lights came on which gave me a whole new bunch of opportunities to get some shots. I shot a lot until it was pretty late. At that point I headed home. The following day they also departed moving on to the next stop on their tour. If they come your way, make the effort to get out and see them. If you have the money, take a ride and support the continued operation of these great aircraft.