World's largest collection of fighter jets is nestled in the middle of France's Wine Country

French vineyard home to fleet of fighter jets

Beaune, France — Burgundy may be known for its wine, but it's what's nestled between the vines that draws the tourists to this vineyard: The world's largest private fleet of fighter jets, 110 in all. It's not your typical collection, but 87-year-old Michel Pont is not your typical collector.

"I was born passionate," he told CBS News. "And a bit crazy," he said, pointing to his head. 

Pont said he caught the collector's bug while in the French Air Force, and started buying the jets 30 years ago to save them from being destroyed.

And that attracts the crowds of tourists interested in wine and war. Military bases in France are closed to the public, so this gives people a chance to see the planes up close.

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CBS News

"It's really surprising," said tourist Bob Woodwards. "Particularly in the middle of the Wine Country. This is a beautiful vineyard area and it's quite a surprise."

This isn't just a massive display of weapons of war, each jet tells an individual story. Like the F-8 Crusader known as the last American gunfighter that squared off against the MIG-17 in the skies over Vietnam.

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F-8 Crusader  CBS News

And a F-100 Super Sabre, the Air Force's Thunderbirds used it to dazzle spectators at the 1967 Paris Air Show.

But the pride of Pont's squadron is an F-16 that didn't come easy.

"I was friends with a Belgian general who wanted to give me the F-16, but the Americans wanted it destroyed" he recalled. "After badgering the American ambassador, he finally intervened and called one day saying bring your truck and get your jet."

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CBS News

The American jets in particular are special to Pont.  
 
"It's thanks to the Americans and Brits that we were liberated from the Nazis," Pont said. "So I enjoy displaying this American pride and honor."

A man rooted in both wine and history, and still in the market for another American jet.