Omaha resident Michael Dober calls the moment when a World War II veteran steps off a restored B-24 bomber the 15-second look.
"The first 15 seconds when they get off the plane, the look on their faces is priceless," he said. "It brings them back to their teens, and they reflect on what they did."
Dober is seeking area WWII veterans to take flight on a B-24, B-17 or a few other planes they might have been in decades ago when Massachusetts based nonprofit and living history organization The Collins Foundation "Wings of Freedom Tour" comes to Eppley Airfield on July 19-21. The event is open to the public, too. Attendees can pay a significant sum for a 30-minute ride themselves.
Volunteering to connect World War II veterans to the event, Dober and his wife have been reuniting veterans with the planes they once flew in since the late 1990s. He said many veterans think the planes will be commercial vehicles, since most were converted, but are gladly surprised when they find out the planes are fully restored to their original specifications.
In addition to the B-17 and B-24, a B-25, P-40 Warhawk, and P-51 Mustang will be at the airfield. The B-17 is one of only nine in flying condition in the U.S., and the B-24 is the only example of its type flying in the world, according to The Collins Foundation.
Dober said he wants to re-connect veterans with their planes to honor them, especially since there are few left now. He added that it's important to educate kids on that part of American history as well.
"The young World War II vets are 95. I'd like to get as many out there as I can to see the planes, hopefully not for the last time," he said. "I just want to get the word out to vets and their families as much as possible and educate the kids."
Any WWII veteran in Washington County, or anyone who knows a WWII veteran or their family, can contact Dober at 402-493-1961.
"Once you find a World War II vet, they'll be a little hunched over, but when they see that B-24, they straighten up, their eyes get a little brighter," he said.