It’s been an exciting week at the Boca Raton Airport, with the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour making its return from January 26th to the 29th.
The highlight of the Boca Raton stop was the January 27th proclamation event, in which over 600 students, educators and guests engaged with the veterans in attendance and toured the rare WWII-era bomber and fighter aircraft.
Proceedings began with the Presentation of Colors by students representing the Civil Air Patrol of Boca Raton.
Airport Deputy Director, Scott Kohut, then led the speaking portion of the day. “This event is a wonderful chance for each of you to interact with these great machines that not only made history, but shaped our future in this country,” Kohut said. “You also have an opportunity to interact with many veterans of World War II and service members of other wars.”
Kohut recognized all current service members and veterans in the audience, which was met with a resounding applause. He also acknowledged the city council members in attendance, including Mayor Susan Haynie, as well as the Airport Authority Board Members, Chair Gene Folden, Vice-Chair Cheryl Budd, Melvin Pollack and Tom Thayer.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity, every year, to remember this legacy,” Mayor Haynie said. “Here are the men and woman that are our heroes. They preserved freedom in this country by flying these aircraft.”
Mayor Haynie spoke next, delivering a moving speech to the students. “This is such a wonderful opportunity, every year, to remember this legacy,” Mayor Haynie said. “Here are the men and woman that are our heroes. They preserved freedom in this country by flying these aircraft.”
Mayor Haynie then delivered her official proclamation, declaring “January 27, 2017 as Wings of Freedom Day here in Boca Raton, honoring the air crews of the United States Armed Forces and the thousands of people who built, ferried and maintained the aircraft that helped end World War II.”
WWII veteran Lieutenant Irwin Stovroff concluded the speaking portion. “These are the planes, with these men on the ground, that saved the world,” said Lieutenant Stovroff. “They called on the United States, our ground forces and our air forces, to save the world, and we did just that for you.”
Lieutenant Stovroff highlighted the planes on display, including the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, North American B-25 Mitchell and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. He then recounted the experience of flying through a war zone at high altitudes, in below zero temperatures without a pressurized cabin.
The Boca Raton Airport and Signature Flight Support hosted the event as a way to honor veterans while inspiring and educating students about the role of aviation in World War II. As a vital community partner, the Airport looks forward to hosting the Wings of Freedom Tour again.