Warbird Heritage Foundation Museum in Waukegan features historic military planes

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- The Warbird Heritage Foundation Museum is a hidden secret in Chicago's north suburbs.

The museum in Waukegan offers up-close access to historic and rare military planes.

"So people can actually see, feel and hear what these airplanes are actually like. Opposed to just standing behind the rope and looking at them," said Paul Wood, founder and president Warbird Heritage Foundation. "We have 14 aircraft in the collection right now and they range from WWI open cockpit biplanes ... All the way up to fairly modern supersonic jet fighters similar to the ones John McCain flew when he was shot down in Vietnam."

RELATED: 60th Annual Chicago Air and Water Show Week

Each plane in the collection meets three specific criteria.

"One, is they're historically significant so all the planes we have had very significant roles in various military conflicts throughout history. Two, they're rare. The airplanes we have there are only maybe a dozen left in the world and they fly. The third criteria is that all the planes have to be fully operational," Wood said.

Some of the planes on the showroom floor have taken part in the Chicago Air & Water Show's special flight programs for the Air Force and the Navy. In this this year's show, which will be held this weekend, it will be the North American P-51 Mustang.

"Both the Air Force and the Navy have a program. The Air Force calls theirs the heritage flight and the Navy calls theirs the legacy flight program. They are both essentially the same. They are designed to show the evolution of Air Force aviation or navy aviation over the years. They do that by flying in formation of 2 or 3 or 4 plane of various years of aviation," Wood said.

Wood has flown these aircrafts in many air shows but when it comes to where he likes to showcase these historic planes the most, it's the Chicago air show.

"There's a million and half people watching, you get to fly right down the beach," Wood said of the Chicago show.
See the Heritage flight in this weekend's 60th Annual Chicago Air & Water Show.

The Warbird Heritage Foundation Museum is open to the public and tours are by appointment.

For more information, visit: https://www.warbirdheritagefoundation.org/
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