ERIE –It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a piece of World War Two history. The Liberty Foundation’s B-17 bomber, the Memphis Belle is in Erie this week, as part of a nationwide tour. The 68-year-old aircraft is one of only a handful in the world still able to fly. Although this particular plane never saw combat, it’s painted to look like the original Memphis Belle made famous by the 1990 movie of the same name.
“The B-17, of course, is one of the most famous aircraft of World War Two. It led the battle of the European theater. Almost all of them were staged out of the United Kingdom, and then later in the war, North Africa,” said pilot Bud Sittig, who gave us a quick tour around Erie yesterday.
“We fly with the windows open, the top turret area where the gunners actually had their weapons. These airplanes were certainly designed with no insulation for noise or anything. It’s just bare metal, and on the outside of that eighth-inch of metal is just the bare airplane.”
The public has a chance to do the same coming up this weekend. The Memphis Belle will be on hand for public flights and tours this Saturday and Sunday at the North Coast Flight School in Erie. If you’re looking to take a ride in the historic aircraft though.. be warned. Tickets don’t come cheap. A 45-minute flight is 450-dollars, which might seem like a lot, but officials say fuel and maintenance costs top four thousand dollars per hour of flight. To make a reservation, call 918-340-0243.