A select number of Chattanoogans will have the opportunity to experience a piece history this upcoming Saturday and Sunday.
The World War II B-17, “Madras Maiden,” will be taking passengers for rides in the skies over the city, departing from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport.
This particular B-17 is one of only 12 such aircraft built during the war still flying today. It is preserved, maintained and flown by the Liberty Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Dubbed the “Flying Fortress” as a result of its defensive firepower, the B-17 saw action in every theater of operation during WWII. The majority of all WWII B-17s were operated by the 8th Air Force in Europe and participated in countless missions from bases in England deep into enemy territory.
“Madras Maiden” was built toward the end of the war and never saw any combat. She is painted in the colors of the 381st Bomb Group. The 381st flew 297 operational missions during the war, dropping 22,000 tons of bombs. During this time the group lost 131 B-17s and downed over 223 enemy aircraft.
The B-17 flight experience takes 45 minutes with approximately a half hour in flight. Once airborne passengers are free to move about the aircraft, even being able to move forward to the bombardier’s position in the nose and look out over the city from behind the glass windscreen.
Replete with a complement of machine guns and an authentic radioman’s position, the flight is as close to what the original aircrews experienced as can be had today.
Flights cost $450 per person and reservations should be made in advance by calling 918-340-0243.