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“I’ve been looking forward to this for years,” WWII veteran rides in vintage bomber

OKLAHOMA CITY - Flight fans of all ages were able to dive head first into 1940's aviation history this weekend as the Wings of Freedom Tour landed at Wiley Post Airport in northwest Oklahoma City.

For one World War II veteran, it was a true bucket list moment.

"Absolutely fantastic, I've been looking forward to this for years," said Paul Taylor. "I've always wanted to fly in one of these things."

Taylor was positively giddy after getting a ride in the B-17.

The 90-year-old from Davenport was a Navy radio operator in the Pacific during WWII. He says he wanted to be a pilot but they didn't have contacts back in the 1940's.

"I looked out that side mirror window, I cried. I get to ride on one now and it just really made my day," said Taylor.

The flight was made possible by the Wings of Freedom Tour. For 30 years, flight enthusiasts from around the world have been taking these WWII vintage aircrafts all over the country, giving rides and tours.

"It's kind of an honor to fly the only one left flying in the world," said Eric White.

White is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he pilots the last operational B-24 on the planet. He says opening the eyes of younger generations to history is what it's all about.

"What's really neat is when we see kids come out that their grandfather or great uncle or somebody flew the airplanes, or their grandmother built the airplanes, and they don't understand what that means," said White. "But then they come out and they fly with us and they experience what it was like in these aircrafts. 'It's cramped, it's noisy. Wow, grandpa, was really cool to see that' connection, it's really neat."

Eric Mandell got to take a ride in the flying fortress. He says the B-17 ride hit close to home.

"Getting to walk around the aircraft and see all the different crew positions, experience the open air of these great warbirds, it was a great, great time," said Mandell. "My great grandfather was a B-17 bombardier, so being able to go up and sit in the actual spot he sat in during the war and look down on the ground and look through the bomb sight, it was a great experience."

A P-51 Mustang was also there.

"I'd love to get into that P-51 but no can do," said Taylor.

Next stop on the tour - Liberal, Kansas.

Click here for the complete schedule for the Wings of Freedom Tour.

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