B-17 aircraft soars over Martin’s Airport
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.