|“We Used To Call It Luck” - Wayne Tabor
On a non-stop flight from Brazil to Africa, Wayne Tabor is 21 years old. He is riding on the right side of the Boeing B-17, alert at all times because their carrier is under attack. He is a waist gunner and completely exposed as his squadron is rapidly approaching enemy boarders. He will complete 30 missions in a matter of 72 days averaging out to a rugged 6 missions per day over Nazi occupied Europe. Everything seems to move at the speed of light until you hear a “THUMP,” and then another “THUMP” all at once you realize, “these guys are trying to kill us!” Brace yourself as the enemy aircraft approaches you at 400 mph, too fast to rebut the blow; too fast to shoot down. “But fighting doesn’t solve anything” says Tabor “More than 26,000 lives were lost, 26,000 stories were never told. It’s just not worth it.”
Tabor’s squadron eventually completed so many missions that they were grounded. Wayne Tabor stepped up and out of that Boeing B-17 and he did not return. That all changed September 24, 2012 when 93 year old Wayne Tabor made his way to Clark County airport and ventured back on to this aircraft after 72 years. “It brought back a lot of really good memories!” he stated with sheer certainty. “Whenever you watch television now-a-days, you see all of these crazy reality shows! THIS he said, while pointing to the B-17; fighting a war in this aircraft is the ultimate reality.”
Upon meeting the pilot of this novel aircraft I quickly learned of the true value that has been invested here. The Pilot’s name was Mr. Ray Fowler; turns out he is an extremely successful and well rounded pilot. Mr. Fowler has been flying B-17 aircraft for 12 years now and everyday is a new adventure. “It never gets old” he declares. This beautiful four engine aircraft belongs to a 501(c)(3) non-profit flying museum known as The Liberty Foundation. Any funds that are generated immediately go back into this aircraft, simply offsetting the aircraft’s high cost of maintenance. The mere interest of the people is what keeps this aircraft alive and on tour. Thanks to the prevailing interests and generous donations of aviators throughout our country, this historic aircraft is still in flight today. Without the help of others, the Memphis Belle would surely be silenced and permanently placed in a museum.
The Liberty Foundation’s Memphis Belle is in fact, one of only 13 remaining B-17’s that still fly today, as most of them were lost in European combat during the war. Lucky for us, this particular “Memphis Belle” was built toward the end of the war and never personally experienced any combat. It has however been painted to exactly match the original, historic “Memphis Belle” B-17 that flew countless missions with the 91st bomb group of the mighty 8th Air force; the first B-17 to complete 25 missions. Interestingly enough, The Liberty Foundation’s Memphis Belle happens to be the very same Memphis Belle that was hired for the filming of the Memphis Belle movie in England, 1989.
The Liberty Foundation’s World War II Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Memphis Belle” is taking to the skies over Louisville, Kentucky on its first ever national tour. The Liberty Foundation’s B-17 is now on tour providing visitors with an exciting opportunity to take a step through time and learn more about the men and women who gave so much to protect our country. The Memphis Belle will be on tour for the next few weeks, making flight “missions” possible, without being shot down from the sky (we hope). With each “Mission” curious aviators will be invited to take wing in this historic aircraft where participants will receive a pre-flight safety briefing that contains historical significance of the aircraft as well as a spectacular scenic air tour around the city. During this flight, passengers will be encouraged to move freely about the cabin in order to enjoy the unique opportunity of visiting the various positions of a combat crew.
Over the next few weeks the B-17 flight experience will also be available in the Indianapolis, Indiana, followed by St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee. Public flights will begin in the mornings, followed by ground tours in the afternoon; the hours of operation are from 10am to 5pm each day. Your “mission” will take roughly 45 minutes to complete with approximately half an hour in flight. B-17 flights are $410.00 for Liberty Foundation members and $450.00 for all non-members. Passengers can become a Liberty Foundation Member for $40 and will in turn receive the member discount for all family and friends.
This is your invitation to take part in this upcoming weekend’s mission. The Liberty Foundation’s Boeing B-17 Memphis Belle will be in the Louisville, Kentucky area September 29 – 30, 2012 and it will be located at the Clark County air port in Sellersburg, Indiana. Have you gone for a flight in this aircraft previously? Tell us about it in a comment below! We would love to hear your stories!
Clark County Airport (KJVY)
Aircraft Specialists FBO
6005 Propeller Lane
Sellersburg, IN 47172
Call 918-340-0243 and schedule your flight today! To view the full schedule: follow - https://www.libertyfoundation.org/schedule.html