B-17 Bomber Flies into Culpeper

A plane once flown in world war two is now in Culpeper. The B-17 is here through the weekend, and is ready for flight.

There's only about 50 B-17's left in existence, and this is one of the few that's operational. It stays in Arizona during the winter and during the warm months it flies all over the United States. This 74 foot bomber is a great piece of history.

This 65 thousand pound airplane is now in the hands of the commemorative air force, and a crew of ten who take care of it. Russ Gilmore is the pilot of the B-17. "I wish it was mine! It belongs to our museum, and we're all volunteers; it's a non-profit organization."

As it makes its trip around the United States, many veterans come to visit and remember.

"We had a gal named Ruth who just lives 20 miles down the road; 101 years old and she helped build this airplane," comments Gilmore

One man that came to visit did 32 missions in the bomber.

"I think I flew my first mission I believe on may the 20th, 1944. Austria; and it was no fun," says Harvey Pearsons, a retired crew member of the B-17 in World War II.

Of course Harvey wasn't exactly sure where the B-17 would take him first...

“And in May of 1944 we took off from Savannah, Georgia in a brand new B17 G, but we didn’t know we were going to New Hampshire to get some sunglasses."

The plane insides were compact, with narrow passageways to get from front to back. The saying goes the plane was built for your freedom, not your comfort.

It's easy to look back and think about how interesting it would have been, but it wasn't all fun and games.

“It brought back some good and bad memories, and it gave you a lot to think about afterwards, and it's just something you don't want to do every day," recalls Person.

The plane cruised at about 30,000 feet. There was also no pressurized cabin; so on top of being in a battlefield, the crew had to be wearing oxygen masks and deal with temperatures at 50 below 0. Now this event is at the Culpeper Airport and lasts through the weekend.

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