Southington WWII veteran volunteers with vintage aircraft group

Southington WWII veteran volunteers with vintage aircraft group


SOUTHINGTON — The biggest surprise for those touring a World War II-era B-24 Liberator bomber, according to former pilot Walter Hushak, is how few comforts the planes had.

Hushak, 93, of Southington, flew B-24 bombers during the war and volunteers with Wings of Freedom, a group that operates aircraft from the 1940’s and provides education on the experience of war in the air.

“I think they’re surprised at the whole thing,” Hushak said. “Everybody has probably been on a passenger plane and then they get onto a bomber, this isn’t a transport plane, it’s a weapon.”

World War II-era bombers, including the B-17, B-24 and B-25, along with a P-51 Mustang fighter, will be at Waterbury-Oxford Airport as part of the Wings of Freedom tour from Sept. 8 to 10. The airport is located at 288 Christian St., Oxford.

Visitors can tour the aircraft on the ground and also take a 30 minute flight. Ground tours are $15 per adult and $5 for children. Flights range from $400 to $450. Call 800-568-8924 for more information.

Hushak has volunteered with Wings of Freedom for 25 years. Each year he rides in the B-24.

“The reward is being able to go on a plane that you flew,” he said.

During the war, only the pilot, co-pilot, radio operator and navigator had seats. Gunners stayed in their stations or stood during takeoff and landing. To operate now, the bombers have had seats installed for civilian passengers.

The interior of a bomber looks chaotic to most people, Hushak said, but it was built to deliver bombs, not a cushy ride. Most of the bomber crews were between 18 and 25. Hushak said crews knew their missions and didn’t complain about accommodations.

“We’re not looking for comfort,” he said.

Walking through a vintage aircraft or taking a ride in one helps people understand the experience of the air war. Hushak said he enjoys giving tours of the plane he piloted, pointing out the mechanical features and crew stations.

“It’s a realization to them, especially if they’ve never seen one,” he said. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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