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World War II history
Mon April 25, 2011
Want to fly in a B-17 bomber?
You might hear an unusual rumbling overhead today in Seattle. An original World War II bomber will be in the sky. The Boeing B-17 is part of a traveling history exhibit that lets you actually fly in the plane.
Media flights will be taking place today, Monday. The B-17 and a Curtiss P-40E "Warhawk" fighter will be open to the public and available for flights on April 30th and May 1st. The aircraft will be at Boeing Field, The Museum of Flight, 9404 East Marginal Way.
The B-17, often called a "flying fortress" was known for being easy to fly and incredibly resilient. This World War II era newsreel describes the bombers.
The B-17 was used for daylight bombing over Europe. The Liberty Foundation is the sponsor of the flying exhibit. Liberty Foundation spokesman Scott Maher says the aircraft was popular among airmen because of its durability.
“This thing is built like a bridge and, in combat, everybody wanted a B-17 because, no matter what kind of damage it sustained, it would almost always get you home," Maher said.
Still, of the 12,000 built, nearly 5000 B-17 bombers were lost in combat, along with tens of thousands of young airmen. Maher hopes to educate people about the sacrifices made by a generation that is dying off.
“We’re losing 1500 WWII veterans a day and with each death goes another story of courage and valor and this airplane represents those stories,” Maher said.
Maher says the Liberty Foundation believes experiencing the B-17 in flight helps bring the past to life in a way viewing the bomber in a dusty museum just can’t.
Flying in the plane isn't cheap. Booking a flight will cost you $450. The money pays for upkeep and helps ensure the traveling exhibit continues to fly.