INDIANAPOLIS — The Liberty Foundation’s 2012 Salute to Veterans tour is in full swing as it brings the Memphis Belle to Indianapolis for public flights Oct. 6-7.
This week, the foundation brought the Memphis Belle to the Indianapolis Regional Airport to offer rides to the media and local veterans. The plane that is on tour is not the original Boeing B-17 bomber named the Memphis Belle, but rather a replica of the plane that was used to film the movie “Memphis Belle” in 1989.
John Shuttleworth is a pilot with the Liberty Foundation. He welcomed members of the media and several local veterans to a special event Monday. He gave a brief history lesson and then took those who wanted to go on a flight up above Indianapolis.
“This particular plane is the G-Model, which was built in late 1945,” he said. “It did not go overseas during World War II. It was used as a transport plane.”
The plane did make it into battle during the Korean War and was then used as a transport plane in the area until it was brought back to the U.S. as surplus in the 1950s. It was sold to the National Metals Co. of Phoenix, Ariz., for $2,687 and then sold to Fast Way Air of Long Beach, Calif.
By this time, it became N3703G on the U.S. Civil Register. In 1960, she was converted to a water bomber and operated as Tanker 78 until the late 1970s. The plane was then purchased by the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation (MARC) in 1982.
MARC was founded by David Tallichet, a wartime B-17 pilot with the 100th bomb group. He restored the B-17G to resemble a B-17F model. The restoration included reinstallation of power turrets, early tail gunners compartment, the addition of an early Sperry Dorsal turret recovered from a south Pacific wreck, and adding a 91st BG paint scheme.
In 1989, N3703G was hired for used in the filming of the “Memphis Belle” movie, filmed in England. Since then, the plane has kept the Memphis Belle paint scheme.
“The Memphis Belle was a historic airplane that had the first crew to fly 25 missions,” Shuttleworth said. “It was a great success for the Army Air Corps.”
After completing its missions, the plane returned to the United States to tour as part of a war bond drive, Shuttleworth said.
“There is so much history that is being lost,” he said. “The B-17 is an iconic bomber from World War II.”
The Liberty Foundation provides visitors with the opportunity to take a step back in time and experience what the soldiers saw and felt during their service in these bombers. It takes about $4,500 per flight hour. The foundation spends more than $1,500,000 annually to keep the B-17 airworthy and on tour.
The Flying Fortress will be on display and available for 45-minute flights for the public Oct. 6 and 7 out of Indy Jet FBO at 3867 Aviation Way, out of the Indianapolis Regional Airport.
Rides are $450 a seat. There will also be ground tours of the plane for a donation. Those will be offered between 3 and 3:30 p.m. each day.
To make a reservation, call (918) 340-0243.