Historic warbirds touch down at Gillespie Field in El Cajon

18,000 B-24s made at Consolidated Aircraft plant

EL CAJON, Calif. - For a brief instant, time stood still as three war planes from World War II – a P-51, a B-17 and a B-24 – gracefully touched down at Gillespie Field in El Cajon on Wednesday.  

"It's hard to talk," said Joe Abernathy, who rode in on a B-24.

Abernathy spent his youth as a top turret gunner in a B-24 over Europe.

"I was really lucky. I didn't spill a drop of blood," said the now 87-year-old, but he knew plenty who did.

He added, "When you live with these guys, fly with these guys and fight with these guys, you never forget."

The three planes are in El Cajon as part of the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom tour.

San Diego produced more than 18,000 B-24s at the Consolidated Aircraft plant on Pacific Highway.  

"It was huge and very noisy," said Don Carlton. He and two friends drove from Minnesota to San Diego to work at the plant in 1941.

The B-24 was the most mass produced aircraft in history. The B-24 at Gillespie is believed to be the only bomber still flying.

The planes will be open for public tours in El Cajon through May 3 and then will go to Palomar Airport for the same thing this weekend.

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