B-17 air­craft soars over Martin’s Air­port

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com

Res­i­dents will be able to take a flight back in time as a World War II era B-17 bomber takes flight over Baltimore.

The Boe­ing B-17 Fly­ing Fortress “Madras Maiden” will land at the Martin State Air­port in Mid­dle River and will be open for tours and flights on Septem­ber 2-3 as part of the Lib­erty Foun­da­tion’s 2017 Salute to Veter­ans tour.

“It’s one way for us to honor our veter­ans and to pre­serve our avi­a­tion his­tory,” said Scott Ma­her, the Lib­erty Foun­da­tion’s di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions.

The na­tional 50-city tour,

which be­gan in March in Port­land, Ore­gon, is the first time this plane has been avail­able for pub­lic view­ing and scenic air tours. Of all the B-17s that were con­structed through­out his­tory, only ten of them are still fly­ing and there are only three that are view­able to the pub­lic (the other 7 are in a mu­seum). Ma­her said that it’s a way for veter­ans to re­live their ser­vice while ex­pos­ing the newer gen­er­a­tions to the sac­ri­fices their grand­fa­thers made dur­ing the war. Call­ing it “hands-on, liv­ing his­tory” Ma­her said that the plane sym­bol­izes Amer­ica’s past and helps you look through the eyes of the sol­dier as they flew the plane nearly a cen­tury ago.

Res­i­dents can look up­wards this week­end and catch a glance at a piece of his­tory in flight, a far cry from see­ing it con­tained and sta­tion­ary in a mu­seum.

As the re­main­ing veter­ans of WII grow older and pass on, this is one way to se­cure and re­mem­ber their legacy.

“With ev­ery vet­eran that comes out, it never fails that they re­mem­ber what hap­pened on a plane once they see it. We talk to some and they can’t re­mem­ber what they ate for break­fast but once they climb on board, it’s like their 20-years-old again,” said Ma­her.

That is the foun­da­tion of what the Lib­erty Foun­da­tion does, he added, which is putting a spot­light on the high cost of Amer­ica’s free­dom.

Over 12,000 Boe­ing B-17s were pro­duced be­tween 1935 and 1945. They were nick­named the “Fly­ing Fortresses” due to their de­fen­sive fire power.

“With its 13 .50-cal­iber ma­chine guns, Chin, top, ball and tail tur­rets; waist and cheek guns the B-17 was in­deed an air­plane that earned the re­spect of its com­bat­ants. In ad­di­tion, the flight crews loved the B-17 for her abil­ity to take and with­stand heavy com­bat dam­age and re­turn safely home,” states the Lib­erty Foun­da­tion.

These planes saw ac­tion in ev­ery the­ater of op­er­a­tion dur­ing WWII and were op­er­ated by the 8th Air­force in Europe where they took on count­less mis­sions in enemy ter­ri­tory. Through­out the war, the B17s re­leased 640,036 tons of bombs on Euro­pean tar­gets in day­light raids. The “Madras Maiden” has a di­verse his­tory, be­ing first used a re­search and de­vel­op­ment air­craft, then used for cargo haul­ing fresh pro­duce, then as an Ant sprayer un­der con­tract from the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, be­fore end­ing up in the hands of sev­eral avi­a­tion mu­se­ums and the Lib­erty Foun­da­tion.

To keep the B-17 up-an­drun­ning is not a cheap en­deavor. The or­ga­ni­za­tion spends over $1.5 mil­lion a year to main­tain the plane and keep it op­er­a­tional. Ma­her ex­plains that it’s so ex­pen­sive be­cause the plane needs to be dis­as­sem­bled and ev­ery part needs to be rein­spected ev­ery 50 hours. The en­gines also need to be re­placed ev­ery 1200 flight hours. The money raised dur­ing the Veter­ans tour will go to­wards the main­te­nance of the air­craft.

The B-17 Flight ex­pe­ri­ence takes ap­prox­i­mately 45 min­utes and will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ground tours will take place in the af­ter­noon.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Lib­erty Foun­da­tion and the “Madras Maiden”, call 918-340-0243 or visit www. lib­er­ty­foun­da­tion.org.

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