PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A World War II bomber, known as the Flying Fortress, will offer tours and flights this weekend at Allegheny County Airport. 

The B-17, called the Madras Maiden, is leased by the non-profit Liberty Foundation from its owner in Madras, Oregon.  Pilot John Shuttleworth says this weekend’s visit will be the midpoint of a 46-city tour.

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“In some cases, we’ll have vets that come out to see the airplane. They maybe didn’t want to talk about their experience because it was too painful. But when they see the airplane, many times it’s the catalyst that opens them up, and they’ll share stories with their family that they had never heard.”

The Liberty Foundation invites us aboard for a preview flight.  The view is dazzling. Half-hour flights are offered this weekend for $450. Tours on the ground are free, with donations encouraged. 

Keep in mind, it costs $6,000 an hour to keep this plane in the air.

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It’s a wonderful flight, but only because we’re not being shot at. More than 12,000 B-17s flew over Germany. More than 4,000 were shot down.

The pilot says the Madras Maiden is more than just a vintage aircraft.

“This represents the sacrifice of over 20,000 airmen for our ideals,” he said.

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