For the men and women of the Army Air Corps, the B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the most iconic symbols that helped win World War II and the public can experience it first hand.
Only 14 B-17 bombers are capable of flight today, and the Liberty Belle B-17 will be available for rides at the Bob Hope Burbank Airport Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27.
The 15 year restoration exceeded 3 million dollars and the Liberty Belle has been flying around the country giving the public a chance for a once in a lifetime ride.
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Visitors can take a flight and walk through the bomber while in the air. There will be plenty to look at including the massive .50 caliber mounted side guns and the bombardier’s bomb site at the front of the plane. The bombardier’s position offers the best view as you look out through the large Plexiglass window.
The current Liberty Belle is not the first B-17 to bear the name. The original Liberty Belle was severely damaged over Germany during a bombing mission, but was the only one of nine in a squadron able to fly back to its home base. Six of the nine went down, the other two B-17s were able to land at Allied bases.
Liberty Belle was eventually scrapped after completing 64 missions. The current Liberty Belle never saw combat because it was manufactured at the end of the war and served mostly as an engine test bed for Pratt & Whitney.
In addition to the Liberty Belle, veteran B-17 Flying Fortress crew members will be on hand to answer questions and give stories such as C. Allyn Lewis, a B-17 pilot who survived a mid-air collision that severely damaged the front of the bomber but was able to land it safely.
“It’s a good idea for them (public) to understand that during WWII we fought tyrannical dictatorships,” said Lewis. “It was a real struggle, considering the technology of the day, there is nothing more to say than war is hell.”
Don’t miss this historic opportunity to ride a piece of history. Flights are between 10am-3pm with ground tours after flights. Call 918-340-0243 to schedule a flight. For more information about the Liberty Belle you can visit the Liberty Foundation’s website, here.
To read more about C. Allyn Lewis and other veteran crew members, click here.
For a video of the Liberty Belle and views inside, click here.
Photos By Will Davidson