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WWII aircraft comes to Chesapeake

9/11/2013, 3:08 p.m.
A rare piece of World War II history has made a pit stop in Chesapeake. One of the remaining 13 ...
The Memphis Belle has yellow swastikas painted on its exterior to represent the German war airplanes it shot down.

By Jordan Crawford

A rare piece of World War II history has made a pit stop in Chesapeake. One of the remaining 13 flyable Boeing B-17 bombers is at the Chesapeake Regional Airport and will be available for public rides and tours.

These planes were nicknamed the “Flying Fortress” because of their defensive fire power. They saw action in every realm of operation during WWII and were flown in three additional wars.

Boeing B-17’s were used in Korea, Israel, and during Vietnam, according to the Liberty Foundation. There were 12,732 B-17s produced between 1935 and 1945. 4,735 of these were lost in combat.

The plane on display in Chesapeake is called “Memphis Belle” and has won fame for being the first B-17 to complete its tour of duty during WWII and for returning every soldier who flew in it from their mission unharmed.

According to the Liberty Foundation, the “Memphis Belle” was built by the Boeing Aircraft Company toward the end of WWII. It is painted in the colors and nose art of the original “Memphis Belle” B-17 that flew countless missions with the 91st bomb group of the mighty 8th Air force, and was the first B-17 to complete 25 missions.

The B-17 flight experience will last 45 minutes in total with approximately a half hour in flight. Flights are $410 for Liberty Foundation members and $450 for non-members. Passengers can become a Liberty Foundation member for $40 and receive the member discount for family and friends.

Media representatives were offered a free flight in the remarkable airplane on Monday. The airplane flaunted its antique machinery as each person maneuvered through its tight interior space. Various windows in the plane’s body and ceiling allowed the media to stick their heads outside the plane, and gaze at its exterior.

Though the cost to fly sounds expensive, it is quite comely when compared to the B-17’s operating cost. A Flying Fortress costs over $4500 per flight hour. The Liberty Foundation spends over $1,500,000 annually to keep the B-17 airworthy and out on tour.

The Boeing B-17 is a non-profit flying museum. Public interest and other generous donations keep this historic aircraft flying. The public can enjoy flights and ground tours on Sunday, September 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Come touch the past and fly through ageless skies. Keep the B-17 from being permanently sentenced to sit in a museum.