AirPower History Tour makes first-ever appearance in UP

Dozens stopped by Sawyer International Airport to glance at and take tours of WWII-era aircraft
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 4:54 PM EDT
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K.I. SAWYER, Mich. (WLUC) - This week, people can check out World War II-era aviation at Sawyer International Airport.

Carter Kallio, a resident from Valparaiso, Ind., is a huge fan of aviation. When he learned from his grandparents about an open-house event involving WWII planes at K.I. Sawyer, Kallio immediately wanted to go. And on Tuesday, he was amazed by what he saw.

“I love aircraft, but the closer I can ever get to them is on the internet through pictures,” said Kallio. “Being so close to aircraft, especially ones from WWII, is incredible.”

Kallio was one of dozens who attended Tuesday’s AirPower History Tour. Put on by the Commemorative Air Force, these tours have made stops around the country for at least a decade. For the first time ever, it is in the U.P.

“There’s a lot of advantages in, of course, being a facility that has big runways and big ramps in an aviation community out to support it,” said Al Benzing, a pilot in the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron. “There’s history here, and folks are able to appreciate the history that we are bringing.”

People took tours inside a B-29 and B-24 bomber and had the option to take ride flights on an actual PT-13 Stearman and T-6 Texan.

Benzing said this experience is better than a museum and brings WWII to the people.

“When we take 10 people up for a ride in this aircraft (B-29), we have the briefing and talk about what we’re going to do and, to keep in mind, what the crews were facing as they were going off in a combat mission,” Benzing said.

One thing Kallio took away was the size of the planes.

“You don’t realize how big these things are until you stand next to one,” Kallio said. “Even those pictures of putting a scale of a human next to the actual plane, it still doesn’t put into actual perspective until you’re actually there to see it.”

On Wednesday, the AirPower History Tour will have ride flights in the B-29 and B-24, as well as the PT-13 Stearman and the T-6 Texan. On Thursday, the planes fly to their next stop: Alpena, Mich.

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