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Mon, Jul 07, 2008

B-17 ‘Liberty Belle’ Makes Historic Trip To England

Lands On 65th Anniversary Of First 390th Bomb Group B-17 Touchdown In England

A four thousand mile trip is nothing for most of the aircraft rolling off the assembly line at Boeing these days, but such a trip in a 65 year old predecessor of the airliners in Seattle is nothing but extraordinary these days, especially when it takes place over the North Atlantic.

But thanks to the hard work and dedication of a team of volunteers from the Liberty Foundation of Douglas, GA, the extraordinary feat of flying a WWII vintage Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress from the United States to England took place last week without incident.

The B-17 “Liberty Belle” touched down in the United Kingdom on July 3 at the Prestwick Airport in Scotland on the final leg of its transatlantic crossing started on June 30. The aircraft, following a similar route taken by wartime crews making the trip, made stops in Labrador, Greenland, and Iceland before arriving in the United Kingdom.

"We have all been on tenterhooks following her journey here - it's a momentous occasion” said Tracey Woods, spokeswoman for the Duxford Imperial War Museum. "For Liberty Belle to be able to make such an arduous journey at her age is a minor miracle."

The driving force behind the effort to bring the B-17 to England on tour is owner Don Brooks. Brooks spent millions of dollars on the restoration which took nearly 20 years to complete. Brooks has a personal attachment to the B-17 as his father flew 30 missions aboard B-17’s during World War II with the 390th Bomb Group -- the insignia and markings of which is shared by the Liberty Belle.

The arrival of the B-17 on English soil also commemorates a special date for the aircraft -- the 65th anniversary of the first 390th Bomb Group B-17 arriving for duty in England.

The B-17’s tour in England will continue until July 25 when the aircraft will return to the United States. During its visit, the Liberty Belle will fly at the Duxford Flying Legends airshow with the sole UK-based Flying Fortress named “Sally B” and the only B-17 flying in mainland Europe, “Pink Lady” from France. It is scheduled to fly to other airfields around England to commemorate the brave airmen who valiantly fought from bases there during WWII.

The Liberty Foundation traditionally tours the B-17 around the United States annually to offer flights and tours aboard the aircraft to help keep the aircraft in operating condition. The tour to England required the sponsorship and support of many companies and individuals. Fundraising to accomplish the task took nearly two years.

FMI: www.libertyfoundation.org

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