Civilian Flights on a WWII Flying Fortress

The Memphis Belle, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress used in the Second World War, is so renowned that even a film has been named after it. Civilians were granted an intriguing chance to become a part of its history when residents of the city of St. Louis were told that they would be allowed to take a ride aboard the Flying Fortress. Unfortunately, the plane offering civilian flights is not the original.

The original Memphis Belle was a major part of WWII history. It was the first aircraft in its class to complete at least twenty-five operations, though it would go on the complete many, many more. Civilians will not get to fly aboard this particular model, but rather the subsequent model of the Flying Fortress that portrayed the Memphis Belle in the eponymous film. While this model may not have been used in active duty, the chance for civilians to board it (let alone take part in its flight) is a rare, once in a lifetime experience.

The event is being offered at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. Organized by the Liberty Foundation’s 2014 Salute to Veterans Tour, this rare experience gives participants a glimpse at what it was like inside an old Flying Fortress during the war, though attendees of the event will be fortunate enough to know they are taking to the skies during peace time. Duration of the flight will last less than an hour, so that the aircraft can make as many trips as possible to accommodate all who are willing to pay for the $450 tickets.

The Liberty Foundation has spared no expense in bringing this experience to the public. They spend over one and a half million dollars every year to keep the plane operative, and will be spending thousands to operate the Flying Fortress during the event. Once all is said and done, they will be offering tours to those who were unable to afford tickets for the flights. They have already had a preview flight, which included real B-17 airmen from the Second World War, the Daily Journal Online reports.

Visitors who fly aboard the Flying Fortress will have a grand experience. Not only will they get to take part in a rare flight, but the construction of the plane offers some unique opportunities as well. For instance, the nose is transparent allowing for passengers to see all around them as they fly through the air. This alone will make the flight aboard the Flying Fortress well worth the ticket price for many who attend.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE