The Liberty Foundation has made the difficult decision to suspend our National B-17 tour, effective March 15th, 2020. Given the recent events, which have led to significant increases to tour costs, we have chosen to focus on more regional events around the Southeast with our C-47 and other foundation aircraft until our Liberty Belle B-17 is ready to fly again. Sadly, this means we will be returning the Ye Olde Pub B-17 back to the Erickson Collection in Madras, Oregon following our Tucson stop next week. If you can come see us in Tucson this coming weekend on March 14-15th, please come out and take a flight on our last stop with Ye Olde Pub. It is fitting to end our 15 year tour in Tucson, home of the 390th Bomb Group, which has always been (and will continue to be) such a big part of our story.
By no means is this the end of the Liberty Foundation’s story, but the beginning of a new chapter. Following the near complete loss of our Liberty Belle in June 2011, we have been making every effort to raise funds to complete her re-restoration. Our national tour has been a big part to helping in this effort, but the economics and increasing insurance costs each year have started slowing our progress. We have found ourselves having to raise money just to cover our weekly stop cost and this became overwhelming this year. While we are saddened by not touring the B-17 each week, we see this decision as the best way to seeing our Liberty Belle fly again. We will continue to raise money to the restoration with other fundraising opportunities and flying our C-47. We see this as a positive future for our foundation because all of our efforts will go straight into the Liberty Belle restoration.
And that is our ultimate goal: To get our Liberty Belle restored and back in the air. Our group of dedicated workers have been making amazing progress on the rebuild in Douglas, Georgia, slowed only by the money needed to speed up their efforts. If she is going to fly again soon, we need to focus on finding more money and getting more people involved. Hopefully, this means getting you involved.
Since 2004, we have flown tens-of-thousands of passengers safely and had millions tour through and see our B-17 fly at events. If even the smallest percentage would include us as a part of their planned charity/giving strategy, we could easily raise the money needed. In the weeks that follow, we will be rebranding our website so everyone can more closely follow the progress of our restoration and to announce our event plans. We will also continue building on a new “Friends of the Belle” database of our supporters. Please sign-up for updates. We welcome your ideas and help.
As we focus our efforts toward fundraising, we will be scheduling several events this year with our C-47, as well as planned special events with our other warbirds. Our current fundraising efforts include the ability to purchase a limited number of laser-engraved original skin patches from our damaged Liberty Belle (with more sponsor items to come) which can be purchased online. The Liberty Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and all donations are tax deductible, so please consider becoming a sponsor.
While we have been working on our restoration, we have been fortunate over the past several years to have access to both the Tallichet “Movie Memphis Belle” and Erickson Collection “Ye Olde Pub” B-17 aircraft. We want to again thank the Tallichet family and Jack Erickson for helping contribute to our mission. We continue to have an amazing group of volunteers who have tirelessly given up their weekends, every week to support the Liberty Foundation, which we could never thank enough. We all choose to volunteer our time due to the effort and story of one man, founder Mr. Don Brooks. This has all been possible due to his vision. This remains to: 1) Restore and maintain WWII aircraft, 2) to honor his father, a 390th tail gunner in the real Liberty Belle and honor all veterans and most importantly, 3) Educate today’s youth as to the high cost of freedom. Don has done so much for keeping this history alive and we all look forward to continuing his vision for years to come.
Lastly, we thank you and everyone who has been out and supported us in any way! Hopefully sometime in the near future, our Liberty Belle B-17 will be back flying, the insurance will have normalized and we will again be airborne heading to a city near you. Please visit our website and follow our Facebook page “Rebuild the Liberty Belle B-17” for changes and updates. We look forward to seeing you soon.
The Liberty Foundation