MANSFIELD — Jacques Robitaille loves the moment when a World War II veteran walks up to a B-24 Liberator or one of the other vintage aircraft.

“The biggest thrill we get is when a World War II veteran comes up to the plane. It’s fewer and far between these days. But we do get the opportunity sometimes.

“They basically go from being a 90-year-old man to an 18-year-old boy again,” said Robitaille, tour leader of the AirPower History Tour visiting Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport this week through Sunday.

The tour, part of the Commemorative Air Force, brought several World War II aircraft to Mansfield Lahm, including a B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress, P-51 Mustang, T-6 Texan and a PT-13 Stearman.

In addition to the special moments with veterans, Robitaille said the volunteer-lead organization enjoys when visitors have connections to the aircraft through family members.

“We get people who tell us their grandfather flew one of these … their father flew one … it can get very special for them.

“There is an appreciation for the fact these aircraft, as beautiful and as tough as they look, they’re actually pretty flimsy. They’re tin cans.

“When you think about the adventures of the young men who flew them and the courage it took to fly these into harm’s way … it boggles the imagination sometimes,” said Robitaille, a Air Force veteran in the 1970s who lives in Texas and has been with the tour for eight years.

(Above: A PT-13 Stearman trainer takes off on a passenger flight on Thursday afternoon at Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport.)

It’s important to Robitaille and others with the tour that these aircraft are not replicas.

“They are not models. They are the real deal. They were manufactured during the time of war,” he said.

The organization is almost exclusively powered by volunteers who love the history of the aircraft.

“The only people who get paid in our organization are the mechanics,” Robitaille said. “The pilots, the ground crews, the ride desk ladies, everyone here is a volunteer. They wouldn’t be out here if they didn’t want to be.

“Every dollar we take in at the gate or through the ride desk or through individual donations goes directly into the maintenance and operation of these airplanes,” he said.

 “Our mission is to honor, educate and inspire .. to honor the men that flew them and the women that built them. to educate the general public, especially young people, about the role that they played in the war and securing our freedoms and to inspire young people to pursue careers in aviation,”  Robitaille said.


Friday, Aug. 26

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

B-29 cockpit tours available all day.

B-24 cockpit tours available all day.

P-51, T-6 & PT-13 available for rides all day.

​Saturday, Aug. 27

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

B-29 flies at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

B-24 flies at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

B-29 & B-24 cockpit tours available after noon.

P-51, PT-13, & T-6 available for rides all day.

​Sunday, Aug. 28

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

B-29 flies at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

B-24 flies at 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., & 12:30 p.m.

B-29 & B-24 cockpit tours available after noon.

P-51, PT-13, & T-6 available for rides all day.

Please be aware some of the weekend rides may be sold out.

Ramp access costs

$20: Adults

​$10: Children (Age 11 thru 17)

Free: Children (Age 10 & Under)

​​All tickets are purchased on-site on the day of the event.​​

​​Price includes free B-29 & B-24 cockpit tour when the aircraft is available.

Rider’s admission is complimentary with proof of purchase.

Attending aircraft subject to change due to weather or maintenance.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...

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