My flight in Dad's World War II B-24 Liberator

Growing up, the B-24 Liberator bomber was a brand name in the Bridges household. A major player in World War II and not quite as famous as the B-17, the Liberator was the plane my dad Clifton Bridges piloted.

"The B-24 Liberator was the most produced Ally airplane in World War II," said Jim "Pappy" Goolsby, pilot for Wings for Freedom, which is funded by the non-profit Collings Foundation and currently has several vintage planes on display at Vision Aviation at Lake Charles Regional Airport. "They built 18,600 of them. They were coming off the production line one every 55 minutes. They were made by women."

On Monday, I was offered a ride on my dad's plane from New Orleans Lakefront Airport to Lake Charles. Civil Air Patrol member Austin Dronet was on board with me.

"There was something new every time you went to each part of the aircraft," Dronet said. "You're flying over different parts of the scenery and it just gives it a different feel every time you looked out there."

While in flight and watching Goolsby, I wondered what my dad would think of this flight.

"Probably what he would remember more than anything was the people he worked with," said Goolsby. "The crews were very close. Even today when you talk to World War II vets, they know what happened to their buddies, all their crew members and whether they're still around or not.  They still get together."

Flying an altitude of about 1,500 feet, there was plenty to see both inside and outside the plane.  The rear and lower turrets, the waist gunner positions and the Bombardiers compartment with Norton bomb site. After the flight, Austin was still in awe of the B-24.

"Just the role it played I think it just stands out as set apart," said Doucet.

Knowing that my dad took part in this chapter of American history makes him a hero in my book.  The Wings of Freedom planes will be on display through noon Wednesday.  For information, go to

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