CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Ron Barnes has always wanted to know what it would’ve been like to be a World War II fighter pilot like his father.
On Sept. 11, he paid a visit to Quonset State Airport to tour one of the five vintage aircraft that were on display as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour. Barnes chose to simply tour the B-17 bomber but admitted that taking to the skies did cross his mind.
“I was thinking, ‘Yeah, I’d love to take a ride on it,'” Barnes recalled.
During the tour, Barnes said he was able to see exactly where his father sat decades ago.
“That’s where my dad sat, that’s the radio position, so obviously I sat there and took a picture,” Barnes said.
His father, Staff Sgt. Raymond Barnes, was one of three survivors after his plane was shot down by the Germans in 1943.
An image of his father’s plane following the crash flashed through his mind when he saw the wreckage of the same plane he had been inside two weeks earlier.
Barnes said he was aboard the same B-17 that crashed at Bradley International Airport earlier this week, killing seven people and injuring another seven.
“It made me think, ‘Wow, these guys, every time they went up was probably a potential risk to be flying in one of these,'” he said.
Barnes said once he heard the plane had crashed, he immediately thought of the veterans and the victims.
“People can’t be replaced and it’s a terrible tragedy from that standpoint,” he added.
Despite the crash, Barnes said he still hopes to one day fly on a bomber just like his father did.