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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Liberty Belle B-17 Bomber Visits Tallahassee




video

Liberty Belle revving up to fly at Tallahassee today.



Looking back tunnel to tail gunner turret.

Waist gunner and belly ball turret.

It carried 12 - 500 pound bombs.

Pilot and co-pilot seats.

Nose gunner and bomb site.

Nose art.

Ball turret on belly.

Tail gunner spent hours cramped back there.

I entered bomber through small door.

Crowd was allowed to tour plane - some paid $420 to fly for half hour. They said it was noisy - and full of vibrations.

You may remember the movie about the Memphis Belle - a B-17 bomber that flew 25 missions bombing Germany during WWII. There were 12,000 bombers made just like it but just a handful are still flying. The Liberty Belle was built in August of 1945 - right near the end of the war. A group of flyers have restored it and fly it all over the country as a flying history book.

For $420 - they will take you for a half hour ride. I was surprised at how many people forked over the money to do it - I guess the recession is only hitting 10% of the people. For a couple dollars they let you walk through the plane and take pictures.

You enter the plane through the nose door - go up a ladder - look into the nose gunner's turret - then into the cockpit. After that you walk along a catwalk between the twelve 500 pound bombs that it carried. After that are the two waist gunners. Finally before your drop out of the back door - you look down the long tunnel to the tail gunner's nook. It is terribly small like a coffin.

The plane is much smaller than you expect. The tail drags along the ground. We lost a lot of good men in these bombers. Imagine flying from England to Germany - during the daytime - in these big lumbering slow beasts.

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