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.