Updated 07/23/2012 06:39 PM
B-17 flights offer history lesson
You can get a history lesson from the sky. The public now has the rare opportunity to fly onboard a restored WWII bomber named after the famous "Memphis Belle." This weekend, flights will take off in Syracuse for anyone who wants to take part. Our Iris St. Meran got a sneak peak and gives us an idea of the view from a B-17 Flying Fortress.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- This is the restored World War Two Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress known as "Memphis Belle." It's a sight that most people only get to see in history books.
Liberty Foundation Pilot Bryan Wyatt said, "In war time, is was crewed by 10 people. Today, we have seats for nine passengers and three crew members."
As part of the Liberty Foundation's 2012 Salute to Veterans, the public can pay to fly on board the bomber. Passengers will get a view of what life was like.
"You get to move about the airplane. See, feel, hear, experience what it was like to be a crew member during the second World War on one of these airplanes," said Wyatt.
Most of the B-17's were used by the 8th Air Force in Europe who went on a number of missions in enemy territory. This B-17 has a replica of two bombs. The original Memphis Belle held twelve of them, each weighing 500 pounds.
More than 12,000 of these B-17s were produced between 1935 and 1945. This is one of about a dozen that are still able to fly.
This particular plane was built in 1945 and was going to be smelted with other military planes and ships. It was purchased for a little more than $2,000 and was fixed up. Now its purpose is education, even at 2,000 feet.
"It's telling the story of these people. They were just farm kids and city kids minding their own business. Next thing you know they're in a draft and they get called off to war where the attrition rate was phenomenal,” Wyatt said. “In fact, the 8th Air Force, which were all the American Air Forces based in England, had the highest loss rate of any service."
These pilots and other crew members volunteer their time to fly and assist with maintenance to keep this plane in tip top shape. They say it's worth every minute to honor the service men and women of World War Two.
The bomber is open to the public Sunday, July 29th for flights and tours in Syracuse. To fly on the B-17 flights are $410 for Liberty Foundation members and $450 for non-members.
To schedule a flight you can contact Scott Maher, the Director of Flight operations. His number is (918) 340-0243.
You can also visit www.libertyfoundation.org.