COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Historic warplanes are on display in Colorado Springs, providing a journey to the past for veterans.
Ten World War II-era fighters and bombers can be found at the National Museum of World War II Aviation Memorial Day through Wednesday May 29.
Some who watched the aircraft take off Monday remember being in the pilot's seat.
"We flew the longest fighter mission of the war," said Clifton Connell, a retired Fighter Squad Captain. "Nine hours, 20 minutes. We just sat in that P-47."
Retired Air Force Chief Master Sargent John Lopes didn't fly these planes, but he remembers them from his boyhood in Hawaii.
"They protected me when I was a kid," Lopes said.
He was just five years old when he witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"On December 7, 1941, I shared breath with 2000 GIs who died so we could be free," Lopes said, tearing up. "And I just hope somebody understands the cost of that freedom."
Lopes says what he saw inspired him to join the Air Force. He now works at the museum, proud to share his history with new generations.
"Here in this venue, with these World War II airplanes that are so steeped in the history that I love, the history that I know, I'm finally home," Lopes said.
The planes are from the museum and also the Texas Flying Legends Museum of Houston. Nine of the aircraft will do the flyover Wednesday for the Air Force Academy graduation.
The National Museum of World War II Aviation is located at 755 Aviation Way and open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Admission fees at the door are $10.00 for adults, $6.00 for children and free for WWII vets. Prepaid admission discounts and more information is available here.