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Restored Memphis Belle B-17 coming to Wichita

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, June 9, 2014, at 6:07 p.m.

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The Memphis Belle, a restored B-17 Flying Fortress, will be available for public flights and viewings June 21 and 22 at the Colonel James Jabara Airport.

And for those who can’t visit the World War II bomber, they probably will be able to hear it.

“It sounds like a pack of Harleys on steroids,” said Scott Maher, director of operations with the Liberty Foundation’s 2014 Salute to Veterans. “It’s astronomically loud.”

During World War II, the Memphis Belle was the first B-17 bomber to complete its 25 missions with aircraft and crew intact, Maher said. Its name comes from the then-pilot’s girlfriend, who was from Memphis, Tenn., Maher said. This year marks the 71st anniversary of the plane’s final mission.

The plane at Jabara next week is not the original plane but rather a restored B-17 used in the 1990 movie “The Memphis Belle.”

The public can fly in the restored bomber from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 21 and 22 at Jabara Airport, 3512 N. Webb Road. Because it costs about $5,000 an hour to fly the aircraft, Maher said, there is a charge of $450 to fly. From 2:30 p.m. until sunset, the Liberty Foundation will offer free ground tours of the Memphis Belle.

The Liberty Foundation takes the Memphis Belle on tour in 50 cities each year, Maher said, as a way to remember fallen World War II crews and soldiers.

“We’re losing about 1,500 veterans a day,” he said. “With each death goes another story of valor, so we’re hoping this plane represents those stories.”

Reach Shelby Reynolds at 316-268-6419 or sreynolds@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @_shelbyreynolds.

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