(May 2, 2005) -- Built in LB almost exactly sixty years ago, a restored B-17 Flying Fortress returned to the city of its birth, drawing hushed veterans and awestruck children and grandchildren to LB's Million Air FBO operation located at the Aeroplex Aviation Center on Sunday May 1.
The Flying Fortress was accompanied by a B-24 Liberator.
The visit is part of the annual Wings of Freedom Tour sponsored by the Collings Foundation (www.collingsfoundation.org).
For WWII veterans, the event had special significance, coming just days before the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's surrender. Fighting raged on in the Pacific for three more months until Imperial Japan's defeat.
The Flying Fortress had four powerful engines on a wingspan of over 103 feet.
The B17 carried large bombs to distant targets. Until the sound of "Bombs Away," the plane itself was a flying bomb...that could explode and take an entire crew to their deaths.
These are the bomb bays, viewed from below.
The B-17G was armed with 13 M2 50" Browning machine guns.
Conditions for crewmembers inside the B-17 were stark, often frigid...and in some areas more like a submarine.
The Flying Fortress gained fame for its ability to sustain damage and still bring fortunate crews home (as the wartime song said "On a wing and a prayer...")
This B-17 rolled off the LB assemblyline in April 1945. It still receives respectful care.
The Collings Foundation says it has the only restored flying B-24 in the world.
It has a wingspan of 110 feet.
The historic aircraft will be at LB's Million Air FBO operation at the
Aeroplex Aviation Center until May 3. The Collings Foundation offers rides aboard the planes for $400 per person.