Traveling WWII B-17 honors veterans - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/30/10

Traveling WWII B-17 honors veterans

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By Christie Post - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A restored WWII Boeing B-17 Bomber, named "Liberty Belle" visits Lubbock paying tribute to veterans.

"We're still lucky to get those guys out with the youngest being late 80's or early 90's. We say they're 19 again just for a few minutes when they get in this airplane and we love the stories," says Ray Fowler, Liberty Foundation Chief Pilot.

The Liberty Foundation is a non-profit organization and they say they are dedicated to preserving the aviation heritage of WWII, the single greatest challenge to freedom in the 20th century. "You'll see it flying overhead, it's got a very unique sound and the silhouette flying through the sky," says Fowler.

Tom Nivens, a local veteran flew in the United States Army Air Core. He's just one of the many the foundation honors with each flight. Although he didn't fly the B-17 bombers, he remembers a little about them. "They had fighter cover and they were in quadrants of groups and group formation. That didn't stop them shooting from the ground," says Nivens.

Sunday, September 5th The Liberty Foundation will offer rides for a unique flight to step back in time and experience the sights and sounds of the historic bomber. Flight experiences are $395 per person for Liberty Foundation members and $430 per person for non-members.

"We fly for about 25 minutes and everybody gets to move to the different combat crew positions, and get up in the nose which is a pretty cool place to go fly. Afterwards we open it for ground tours and just open it for donations to go through the airplane," says Fowler.

The money goes toward the one million dollar annual cost to keep the B-17 running. "Per hour costs are somewhere about $4,000. Just fuel alone is 200 gallons an hour. Five dollars a gallon we're spending about $1,000 in fuel," says Fowler.

Ray Fowler says they restored the aircraft for $3.5 million. This particular aircraft was built toward the end of the war and never saw any combat. "Our founder Don Brooks, his father was a tail gunner in the original Liberty Belle, he passed away in the 70's. Don wanted to get this aircraft flying with a tribute to his father and all the veterans who flew with it."

"We hope to keep doing it for the next 20 years. We always say we know when the little kids come out and know more about a B17 than we do, we know we're doing our part to keep that history alive," says Fowler.

To schedule a session call 918-340-0243 or (CLICK HERE).

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