94-year-old Tuskegee Airman celebrates birthday in the sky

Three WWII planes on display at Palm Springs Air Museum

Take a flight on WWII B-24 Bomber

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- - The last flying B-24 Witchcraft Liberator Bomber in the world flew again at the Palm Springs Air Museum Tuesday.

Although more than 18,000 were made for World War II, there are only 13 left in existence.

"I like the old round engines, the noise, the smell, everything," says Greg Freeman as he sits mid-plane, visiting from Canada.

About ten people, our crew included, were able to fly above the Coachella Valley, imagining what it was like back in the early 1940's.

"Lot of sacrifice," says pilot Jim Harley. "These guys were flying at 28 thousand feet, 60 below zero, no creature comforts on board... They had heated flying suits and big wool clothes, but there is no flying pressure and they had to wear oxygen masks. Pretty primitive by today's standards, but they won the war."

It's part of the "Wings of Freedom" tour across America. Harley started the tour to honor veterans in 1989, meant to only last five years, the length of the war.

"Twenty-five years later, we're still going, giving flights experiences, showing them off to the public, and the interest is still there," he says.

Interest that's peaking for history enthusiasts young and old.

"I was actually very interested in World War II," says teenager Colin Henderson, the youngest person on our flight. "I'm pretty interested in the B-17 Flying Fortress, too."

After the flight, Henderson sat with someone who has a lot to share about the war.

Bob Friend is one of the last Tuskegee Airmen, and chose to celebrate his 94th birthday as a passenger in the plane he used to pilot -- the P-51C Mustang.

With a thumbs up and a wave, Friend became a man reuniting with his machine.

One of three machines that won't be in the desert long. The "Wings of Freedom" tour ends Wednesday.

For more on reservations, pricing, and tours, click here: http://palmspringsairmuseum.org/events.htm

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