WWII-Era Bomber Takes Flight Over North Texas

If you see a vintage aircraft over the skies of North Texas, it isn't your imagination.

A completely restored World War II-era B-17 Flying Fortress has taken up residence at the Cavanaugh Flying Museum at Addison Airport.

Pilot Ray Fowler said the $3 million restoration of the plane, dubbed the Liberty Bell, took 15 years to complete.

"We first flew it in 2004, and we hope to keep it flying for many years to come," he said.

The Liberty Belle is one of 14 B-17s still flying, but never saw combat. Only one B-17 that is operable today actually flew during the war, Fowler said.

"By the end of the war, you didn't want a B-17 that was all shot up," Fowler said. "You wanted one straight off the assembly line."

During World War II, the B-17s reigned supreme over the skies of Europe. Bill Mcaleb said he flew 35 missions during the war. On his eighth mission, he flew his badly damaged plane back to England on only two engines and awarded a medal.

"We were scared a little bit, but really, at the time, we were too young to be scared," he said.

Fowler said the missions were extremely dangerous. Once the fighter aircraft that escorted the bombers ran out of fuel, the B-17s were left to their own defenses.

"The plane has 13 50-calibre machine guns," Fowler said. "That's why it's called a 'Flying Fortress.'"

But the B-17s deadly payload is what helped secure the Allies victory during World War II.

"This plane played a vital role in ending the war in our favor," Fowler said.

The Liberty Belle will be on display at the Cavanaugh Flying Museum through Sunday.

The public can buy a seat on a flight this weekend. Fowler said the public flights support the aircraft and keep it flying.

A 25-minute flight costs $430. Nine people can fly at a time.

To reserve seats please contact Scott Maher at (918) 340-0243 or smaher@libertyfoundation.org

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