365 Things To Do Around the Eastside

Sharing Things To Do Around Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Issaquah, Sammamish and Woodinville

Day 24 of 365 Things To Do Around the Eastside: The Flying Fortress B-17 Bomber ~ The Liberty Belle

B-17 Bomber - Flying FortressThis weekend you can go for a ride aboard The Liberty Belle at restored World War II B-17 Bomber at the Museum of Flight. This is a very unique experience that will be something to remember forever.

During WWII there were over 12,000 B-17 built between 1935 and 1945. About 5,000 were lost in combat. Today there are only 14 B-17’s that still are flying. The Liberty Belle is painted with the colors and the nose are of the original Liberty Belle that flew missions with the 390th Bomb Group of the U.S. 8th Air Force.

From the Liberty Foundation’s web site:

What’s the story behind the Liberty Belle?

On September 9, 1944 the 390th Bomb Group attacked a target in Dusseldorf, Germany and suffered its second largest single mission loss of the war. Over the target just prior to bomb release, one of the low squadron B-17s was hit in the Bomb bay by flak. The 1000 lb. bombs exploded and nine of the twelve aircraft in the squadron were instantly destroyed or knocked out of formation.B-17 Bomber Liberty Belle

Six of the nine went down over the target, one flew two hours on a single engine and landed at Paris, another “crippled plane” landed in Belgium and the other struggled back to its home base and landed long after the other thirty nine B-17s had returned from the mission. The one that came home was “Liberty Belle”, she went on to complete 64 combat missions before being salvaged on February 18, 1945.

The Liberty Foundation’s B-17G (SN 44-85734) has an interesting post-war history. Originally sold on June 25, 1947 as scrap to Esperado Mining Co. of Altus, OK, it sold again later that year to Pratt & Whitney for $2,700. Pratt & Whitney operated the B-17 from November 19, 1947 to 1967 as a heavily modified test bed for their P&W T-34 and T-64 turboprop engines. It became a “5-engine aircraft”, having the powerful prototype engine mounted on the nose! The aircraft was flown “single-engine”, with all four radial engines feathered during test flights.

B-17 Bomber Liberty BelleFollowing this life as a test platform, it was donated in the late 1960s to the Connecticut Aeronautical Historic Association in East Hartford. Unfortunately, it was heavily damaged on October 3, 1979 in a tornado, in which another aircraft was thrown onto the B-17’s mid-section. The wreck was stored in the New England Air Museum, CT from 1981 until 1987.

(photos courtesy of The Liberty Foundation Inc. 11564 East 7th Street, Tulsa, OK 74128)

The Flying Fortress with take to the sky above Seattle on April 24 and 25 from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm taking off from Boeing Field. The price for this priceless flight is $430 per person and you can make a reservation by calling 918-340-0243. Each flight experience lasts about 45 minutes, with 30 minutes in the air.

If you can’t get a reservation for a flight, you can still come out to Boeing Field for a ground tour and to watch the Flying Fortress to flight.

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April 23, 2010 - Posted by | Family Activities, Outdoors | , , , , , , , ,

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