Fly high on B-17 ‘Movie Memphis Belle’ living WWII museum

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MERIDIANVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A restored WWII B-17 "flying fortress" bomber will soon take to the skies over Huntsville, and you can come along for the ride.

69 years ago these aircraft flew from bases far from home in an attempt to bring freedom to oppressed peoples. The mission of The Liberty Foundation's 2014 Salute to Veterans Tour is to educate the people of America about courageous WWII veterans, and to remember those brave aircrew who never made it home.

"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. You are invited to come touch the past and fly through ageless skies.

The tour will be arriving in Huntsville at the Huntsville Executive Airport Monday for media opportunities. On display will be the famous Boeing B-17 "Memphis Belle" celebrating this year the 71st anniversary of the Memphis Belle's historic last mission.

The flight is quite an experience, but one vastly different from the wartime missions.

"Really it isn't experiencing. They're missing the worst part," explains former WWII B-17 navigator Bill Varnedoe who rode in the bubble nose of the B-17 and help set the pilot's course. "The worst part is that the temperature inside that thing was 40 below zero -- you don't feel that. The other part of it was we had to be on oxygen with a mask the entire trip -- you don't experience that," laughs Varnedoe.

The aircraft will be open to the public and available for flights and ground tours on Saturday October 25th. Flight begin at 10:00 a.m. with ground tours beginning around 4:00 p.m.

As the B-17 flies around town this weekend, its famous silhouette and unique sound are sure to draw a great deal of attention. By participating in this ultimate history lesson, you can keep the B-17 on tour and away from the silence of a brick and mortar museum.

The B-17 flight experience takes 45 minutes with about half-an-hour in flight. Flights cost $410 for Liberty Foundation members and $450 for non-members. A Flying Fortress cost over $4,500 per flight hour. The Liberty Foundation spends more than $1.5 million annually to keep the B-17 airworthy and out on tour.

For information or to reserve a flight call 918-340-0243 or email smaher@libertyfoundation.org