A Flight Back in Time: WWII Bomber Flies in Raleigh


Virginia Wooten

On the runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, 95 year old Charlie Taylor waited on the tarmac along with other excited registrants to fly on a Word War II era B-24 Liberator plane. For others, this was a chance to learn more about history and take upon the skies. But for him, it was going back in time. Charlie Taylor is a WWII veteran who captained this exact make and model of plane during the war. Handing his cane to the pilot and climbing into the bomber, he jumped back in time to his 19 year old self.

This opportunity for veterans and others interested in history arose when the Wings of Freedom Flight Experiences decided to stop in Raleigh for their WWII Flight Tour. This project by the Collings Foundation provides historical experiences for the public to learn more about the history of their country by creating experiences for those in the skies. Wings Of Freedom has a plethora of planes that take tours to different airports around the country, from coast to coast. The foundation offers a range of opportunities from giving flight instruction for a TF-51D, to taking a half hour tour of the plane while flying in early 20th century aircrafts.

The bomber that visited Raleigh stayed at RDU the whole weekend, providing flights for a multitude of people. Charlie Taylor got to take yet another flight in the same make and model of plane he flew at age 19. While serving, he flew in 50 missions in his first five months of service. This make of bomber, the B-24, was known for its riskiness at the time. It was infamous for loss of fuel and prone to catching on fire which understandably made many men not want to fly and operate a plane of this kind. The B-24 was not only prone to fuel loss and fires, but because of its dense build and heaviness, could sink in a matter of only 12 seconds. Men who flew in this aircraft, such as Taylor, had only a 25% chance of surviving after every flight. Taylor said to have watched a countless amount of planes in formation crash or catch fire, but he claimed to be too naive to understand the risk.

Taylor at age 22 became one of the oldest of his 10 man crew, also holding the position as the pilot of the bomber. They flew over and bombed railroad yards and oil refineries destroying these enemy facilities. Not every mission was simple; he recalls one occasion where all the engines failed when flying over Germany but Taylor managed to not only operate the plane but repair the engines. It is easy to say he was an asset to his flight crew.

After leaving the flight on the bomber, the plane’s rattling silenced, and the passengers exited. Another plane was beginning to start, about to board other passengers for a flight back in time. Charlie Taylor, at age 95, told reporters on the tarmac “I really do wonder how we did it. I hope we don’t do it again.”