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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

‘Memphis Belle’ visit is the ‘ultimate history lesson’
Salute to Veterans tour includes flights on the B-17 bomber
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Photo by Morris Stephenson: This Boeing B-17 World War II bomber, the “Memphis Belle, landed Monday in Roanoke for a media day exhibit. Public exhibits are set Friday through Sunday at the Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport as part of a “Salute to Veterans” tour.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

By MORRIS STEPHENSON - Special to the News-Post

A restored Boeing B-17 World War II bomber, featured in the movie "Memphis Belle," is scheduled to land for an exhibit Sept. 5-7 at the Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport as part of a "Salute to Veterans" tour.

Ground tours will be offered Friday, Sept. 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Landmark Aviation on Waypoint Drive with public flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The 45-minute flights cost $410 for Liberty Foundation members and $450 for non-members.

The cost of operating the plane is over $4,500 per flight hour.

Sixty-nine years ago, these aircraft flew from bases far from home in an attempt to bring freedom to oppressed peoples, according to the foundation.

" Our B-17's mission today is to educate the people of America about the courage of WWII veterans and to remember those brave airmen who never made it home," said Scott Maher with the Liberty Foundation. "'Memphis Belle' is a living museum, our heritage not in mothballs or the pages of a dusty book, but real life, three dimensions, here and now. Come touch the past and fly through ageless skies."

The "work horse" of the war, playing major roles in the defeats of Germany and Japan, the bomber is making appearances throughout the country as part of the 71st anniversary of the plane's last mission.

The original "Memphis Belle" was the first B-17 to complete her tour of duty, but she also managed, despite severe damage, to bring all her men back unscathed from every mission.

The Memphis Belle was assigned to the 8th Air Force and was the first to complete 25 missions. Records show the crew downed eight enemy fighters and dropped a pay load of over 60 tons over Germany, France and Belgium. The plane flew 184 hours and 50 minutes of combat missions, covering more than 20,000 combat miles.

The plane, which carried 10 men, was equipped with 10 Browning .50-caliber machine guns and carried between 8,000 and 17,600 pounds of bombs with fitted external racks. It was powered by four 1,200 hp Wright Cyclone 9-cylinder engines.

The bomber carried 2,780 gallons of gasoline and had a gross wartime weight of 65,000 pounds.

For more information, contact Scott Maher at (918) 340-0243 or email

On Monday, members of the media were invited to take a flight on the bomber and interview veterans who flew during WWII. For details, see Morris Stephenson's column in today's News-Post.

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