|Photo by Dawn Rae|
The Memphis Belle, the original one, is sequestered away and is being restored. However, there is a B-17 that has been done in her likeness, apparently for the movie of the same name. The movie version Memphis Belle was taking people for rides during this entire weekend. When not in the air with a load of human cargo, it was on the ground and you could tour it inside and out. It was great fun watching the smiling and happy faces of the passengers disembarking from the plane after their ride in the sky. There was not a dissatisfied customer in sight. It was better yet, watching older gentlemen being given special treatment with photos at the front of the plane and airport staff escorting them on to the plane. I can only imagine that these gentlemen may have first hand memories of these planes.
A few bits about the B-17 during the campaign against Nazi Germany from eyewitness to history:
* up to 1,000 aircraft would take part in a mission
* each plane was manned by a crew of 10 men
* a mission would last about 8 hours
* planes were unheated and temperatures could reach 60 below
* planes were open to the outside
* B-17s often took fire or were shot down
* crewmen wore helmets and suits to help protect against enemy fire
* on average, a crew member had a 1 in 4 chance of completing his tour of duty
Again, I am not a history buff. But the personal stories of the men who flew in these "flying fortresses" in order to fight in WW II both intrigue me and touch me.
If you are a history buff, you have to make sure you find a way to take a ride in one of these pieces of history. You can follow the Movie Memphis Belle schedule and plan your purchase of the $450 ticket. If I had the spare money, you can bet your sweet bippy I would have been on that plane today. My chance may not be lost as she is scheduled for the remainder of this year in nearby states: GA, NC, SC, TN, and VA
Whether you agree with military intervention or not, it is clear even to me that B-17s had an important part in ending the horror that was happening in Nazi Germany. And for that reason, I highly recommend that you tour a B-17 and you take a ride in this amazing bit of history if you are able.
Thank you to all who served during WWII; especially those of you who piloted and manned these flying fortresses. Thank you to the Liberty Foundation and Martin State Airport for providing such a wonderful glimpse into our history.
Written by Dawn Rae