I had the esteemed honor today of circling downtown Omaha in the WWII B-17 bomber "Memphis Belle." If YOU want that opportunity this weekend, CLICK HERE or call 918-340-0243 for details!
Here's the Belle arriving at the Council Bluffs airport:
While this particular airplane didn't see combat (it was primarily used for transporting supplies), it was mocked up for the movie that bears its name, complete with the decals marking how many missions it flew, and the enemy planes it shot down.
As awesome as this flying fortress is, it's more awe inspring to think of all the approx. 40,000 young men who died training on, and flying missions in, these planes during WWII.
Not every flight ended in a loss for our side, though, thanks to those expert gunners curled up in the bowels of these bombers. As I can now personally attest, there is not a lot of room anywhere in this airplane -- and I can't imagine how cramped a guy would be in this gun turret.
The Belle has open windows and -- for part of the plane -- an open roof. If you saw the bomber buzzing the Woodman Tower, and thought you saw a guy raising his arms with his head and shoulders poking out the top of the plane, 'twas I.
I also was in the clear-glass bottom portion of the front of the aircraft, under the cockpit ... and couldn't resist playing with the guns:
Can't see the video player above? CLICK HERE for the YouTube link.
My thanks to the crew that maintains and pilots this historic aircraft, the Liberty Foundation that is making this weekend's tourist flights possible, and the men and women of the Greatest Generation for doing what needed to be done.