Imagine being a young man of 20, a First Lieutenant serving as the bombardier aboard a B-17 flying out of its base on the outskirts of London. Your first bombing Raid over Germany, not sure what to expect. Maybe a bit nervous, but not scared, not yet. During the 8 hour mission, you cross into Germany, you see some flak, but it is miles away. As bombardier you sit in the plexiglas nose of a B-17, everything is neatly laid out in front of you. It looks like a movie from there
It was time to make your bombing run over the target, you were able to get your bombs away, from reports from other B-17’s you did a good job. The importance of the Norden bomb sight is not lost as you and the crew make your way back to base.
But on your way home, 3 Focke-Wulfs appear around you. The B-17 flying right next to you is hit and it simply drops out of the sky. It is now very real, but you are still not scared, then you hear over the radio, “we’ve been hit, Sir.” One of the waist gunners was hit, you go back to his aide, you grab the machine gun and fire. You think you have done some good. You make your way back to the nose, the bomber had lost its place in the formation, but you were over France and headed home.
Once out of the aircraft, you step back and see the battle damage, now you feel afraid. but, you made it and you know you will be off again soon on another mission. You write home letting your family know that the B-17 was the best airplane ever built, ‘cause it brought you home. Sometimes just on a wing and a prayer, sometimes on two engines, sometimes two engines and a half of a wing, but you got home.
Today, the mission of our B-17 is very different. Today we fly in honor of our courages WWII Veterans. The B-17 is now used for education outreach. Crossing the nation bringing to life the sights and sounds of these airplanes and honoring the millions of men and women who served in the air, on the ground, and at home in America building thetools our servicemen took to battle.
Now you can fly on a mission and re-live history on one of the Liberty Foundations’ Flight