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A group of 10 skydivers led by Rich Piccirilli (second from bottom left) boarded the B-17 Flying Fortress where they jumped from the bomb compartment of the plane over the skydive center in Perris on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
A group of 10 skydivers led by Rich Piccirilli (second from bottom left) boarded the B-17 Flying Fortress where they jumped from the bomb compartment ...
Ina Kontaxis gets a close look of the bomb compartment in the belly of the B-17 Flying Fortress at French Valley Airport on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
Ina Kontaxis gets a close look of the bomb compartment in the belly of the B-17 Flying Fortress at French Valley Airport on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
Collings Foundation mechanic Robert Sichterman removes “dud” bombs from the B-17’s bomb compartment during the 2014 Wings of Freedom Tour at French Valley Airport.
Collings Foundation mechanic Robert Sichterman removes “dud” bombs from the B-17’s bomb compartment during the 2014 Wings of Freedom Tour at French Va...
The B-24 Liberator named “Witchcraft” on display at the French Valley Airport tarmac.
The B-24 Liberator named “Witchcraft” on display at the French Valley Airport tarmac.
Riley Briganti (left) with her brother Caleb have a hands-on experience of the historical planes on display at French Valley Airport.
Riley Briganti (left) with her brother Caleb have a hands-on experience of the historical planes on display at French Valley Airport.
Collings Foundation volunteer pilot Mark Murphy (left) and flight guest Scotty Mcdowell get seated and strapped in before a flight in the P-51 Mustang.
Collings Foundation volunteer pilot Mark Murphy (left) and flight guest Scotty Mcdowell get seated and strapped in before a flight in the P-51 Mustang...
The B-17 Flying Fortress roars down the French Valley runway loaded with 10 skydivers for a jump over the Perris skydive center on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
The B-17 Flying Fortress roars down the French Valley runway loaded with 10 skydivers for a jump over the Perris skydive center on Tuesday April 22, 2...
Visitors wait in line to go inside the B-17 for a close look at French Valley Airport on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
Visitors wait in line to go inside the B-17 for a close look at French Valley Airport on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
An interior look at the gun station in the nose of the B-17 Flying Fortress.
An interior look at the gun station in the nose of the B-17 Flying Fortress.
Collings Foundation P-51 Mustang war bird named “Betty Jane.”
Collings Foundation P-51 Mustang war bird named “Betty Jane.”
Scotty Mcdowell climbs into the copilot seat of the P-51 Mustang war bird for a one of a kind flight on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
Scotty Mcdowell climbs into the copilot seat of the P-51 Mustang war bird for a one of a kind flight on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
A skydiver waits in the rear side door hatch of the B-17 before taking off to the Perris skydive center on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
A skydiver waits in the rear side door hatch of the B-17 before taking off to the Perris skydive center on Tuesday April 22, 2014.
The skydive group gets a briefing on how to maneuver and jump from the B-17 bomb compartment before taking off for Perris.
The skydive group gets a briefing on how to maneuver and jump from the B-17 bomb compartment before taking off for Perris.

WWII airplanes, skydivers star at French Valley Airport stopover


Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Issue 18, Volume 18.
Tim O'Leary
Staff Writer
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A three-day visit by World War II airplanes recently attracted more than 1,000 people over a three-day span to French Valley Airport. The stopover was highlighted by a special sojourn that featured 10 local skydivers dropping out of the bomb bay of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

The skydiving group, coordinated by Rich Piccirilli, descended upon Perris Valley Airport on April 22 in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the Collings Foundation.

The nonprofit foundation, launched by Robert F. and Caroline Collings, owns and displays dozens of vintage and war-era airplanes that are flown, being restored or displayed at various locations. The foundation, which was created in 1979 and is based in Stowe, Mass., does the same with numerous vintage and celebrity-owned motor vehicles.

The B-17 was one of three wartime aircraft that visited French Valley Airport as part of the Collings tour. The planes were opened to visitors and also available for flight bookings. The local arrangements were made by Julie Sprengelmeyer, a Temecula resident who has been affiliated with the foundation for the past 10 years.

Sprengelmeyer attributed the enthusiastic local response to the historical importance of World War II and the dwindling number of veterans who can recount that global conflict.

"It’s priceless, and I think our young people need to know all that," she said.


 

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