PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Hollywood movie tells the story of a World War II bomber called the “Memphis Belle.”
The B-17 from that film has landed at Allegheny County Airport, for weekend flights and tours. The original Memphis Belle was the first B-17 to complete 25 missions over Nazi Germany.
Seventy years later, volunteer pilot Bryan Wyatt has flown the movie version to Allegheny County Airport, on a nationwide tour sponsored by the Liberty Foundation.
“We’re very passionate about the airplane,” Wyatt says, “and sharing it with as many people as we can. We don’t want to forget our heritage from that era. Keep their memory alive for what they did for us.”
World War II veteran Charles Keller flew 35 missions in the war.
“We brought a plane back with 200 holes in but nobody injured,” He recalls. “There was something about almost every mission that would get your blood pressure up a little bit.”
World War II bombardier George Cahill recalls an emergency landing in Wales, on one engine.
“And when we landed in Wales and the wheels hit the tarmac the fourth engine stopped, believe it or not,” he says.
After they breathed a sigh of relief, the bombardier and his crew had a pretty good week in Wales.
“We had stateside beer and fresh eggs for a week,” Cahill said with a smile.
Propellers spin, and the Flying Fortress takes to the sky once more. Built in 1945, this B-17 never saw combat.
Weekend flights for paying customers will help to keep it flying. Compared with sacrifices past, it’s a small price to pay.
For information on tours and flights, log on to: http://www.libertyfoundation.org/schedule.html