By Algerina Perna
The “Movie Memphis Belle,” a Boeing B-17 restored WWII bomber, is a living museum that flies around the country offering tours and flights to those interested in taking a trip through history. From August 30-31, the plane will be at Martin State Airport in Baltimore. In 1989, the bomber was hired for filming the English movie, “Memphis Belle,” released in 1990, hence the name, “Movie Memphis Belle.”
The “Movie Memphis Belle” honors the original “Memphis Belle,” which was the first aircraft to fly 25 missions in Europe and return all crew members home safely during WWII. By the end of the war, the four-engine B-17 bombers, often called the “Flying Fortress” were each equipped with thirteen .50 caliber machine guns and an 8,000 to 17,600-pound bomb load. The bomber held a 10-man crew, weighed 65,000 pounds; and flew almost 300mph at top speed. The original Memphis Belle is under restoration at The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
Built in April 1945, the “Movie Memphis Belle” never flew in battle. The plane has had several private owners since the government sold it in the late 1950’s, says Scott Maher, director of operations with the Liberty Foundation, which leases the plane from the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation (MARC). It operated as a water bomber in the 1960’s and ’70’s, putting out fires in the northwestern United States.
Maher says the current mission of the Movie Memphis Belle is to, “honor our veterans, preserve our aviation history, and teach current and future generations as to the high price of freedom.”
To reserve a flight or to tour the aircraft, call (918) 340-0243, or go to www.libertyfoundation.org