John Barrier hadn't seen his dad, Charles, smile so big in a long time.
The two were special guests aboard a historic B-17G Flying Fortress, nicknamed "Aluminum Overcast." The restored World War II bomber took flight last week over Concord Regional Airport as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Salute to Veterans national tour.
The tour also marks the 75-year anniversary of the special aircraft.
Both Barriers said the flight was a dream fulfilled.
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During WWII, Charles Barrier was captain and a pilot of another B-17 in the 749th Bomber Squadron, 457th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, based in England.
Born and raised in Concord, Charles graduated from Concord High School in 1939. Soon after he heard Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Raleigh.
His son, John, 57, also of Concord, grew up listening to his father's war stories.
"He's a hometown boy, and he's proud of the fact that he's from North Carolina, Cabarrus County ... ," John Barrier said before the flight. "Most of these guys are not around anymore.
"He's 89 next week, and he's doing well. He's very proud of his service," John said. "I understand how much his crewmembers thought of him because he brought them back alive. It's going to be so nice living some of the things he used to live."
"This is a real delight, a real delight," Charles said before the flight. "We have four children, and they, of course, over the years have been exposed to various bits of war conversations. This will be the first time that I've ever had one of my children with me on a flight on a fantastic airplane."
After the flight, Charles said, "This really brings back some pleasant, pleasant memories for me. To be in this airplane and hear and feel it again - the younger people I know, they don't know about this (aircraft)."
The B-17 is the feature attraction of the open house at the airport, which ends today. The event also has displays of military, antique and classic warbirds. Proceeds go toward Rotary International's Polio Plus program, which has pledged to wipe out polio worldwide.
Learn more at www.b17.org.