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Fly the historic skies

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - This is the view from the nose of the B-17F Memphis Belle shared by thousands of American aircrewmen during World War II. Although this shows Washington County, it wouldnt have looked so different flying low across France, Belgium and Germany.A restored World War II B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber and a P-51 Mustang, a fighter that often escorted the B-17s on missions over Germany, took to the skies above Hillsboro last weekend with a series of public flights. The aircraft were open to the public and available for flights and ground tours last Saturday and Sunday.

The vintage aircraft is visiting the area on behalf of the Liberty Foundation, which is sponsoring this year’s “Salute to Veterans” tour. On display was the famous Boeing B-17 “Memphis Belle,” which this year celebrates the 71st anniversary of the historic bomber’s last mission, as well as a North American P-51 “Mustang” fighter.

The airplanes flew into the Portland Hillsboro Airport, 2050 N.E. 25th Ave., in Hillsboro nearly a week beforehand.

“These aircraft flew from bases far from home in an attempt to bring freedom to oppressed people,” said the Liberty Foundation’s Scott Maher. “Our mission for today is to educate the people of America about the courageous World War II veterans, and remember those brave aircrew who never made it home. ‘Memphis Belle’ is a living museum, our heritage not in mothballs or the pages of a dusty book, but real life, three dimensions, here and now. You are invited to come touch the past and fly through ageless skies.”

For more information, call 918-340-0243, or visit libertyfoundation.org.

Spokesman photographer Josh Kulla took part in a media flight prior to the public flights and was able to capture a number of interesting photos showing the historic plane in action. Check them out below:

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The restored Boeing B-17 Memphis Belle taxis along the runway at Hillsboro Airport during a recent stop by the Liberty Foundation, the non-profit group that operates the plane and offers public flights.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The view out of a port side window over rural Washington County during a flight on the B-17 Memphis Belle.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Former B-17 crewman James Miller of Hillsboro recounted his service in Europe, during which he and his crew were shot down over Germany and taken prisoner.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The nose art on the B-17 Memphis Belle shows off the planes namesake. This particular aircraft was used in the filming of the Hollywood film Memphis Belle.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The view out of the top hatch of the Memphis Belle, a B-17F restored by the Liberty Foundation of Atlanta. The historic heavy bomber now tours the country.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The nose armament in the B-17F consisted of a pair of Browning .50 caliber heavy machine guns. The bombardier sat at the table to the left when he wasn't busy aiming his plane's payload at targets in France, Germany and Belgium.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The B-17F model featured four Wright R-1820-97 turbo-supercharged radials engines of 1200 horsepower each.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The ball turret on the bottom of every B-17 had a pair of .50 caliber machine guns - and the least room of any spot in the aircraft. At the same time, veterans say it was also the most survivable spot on the plane when under attach by enemy fighter planes.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Sperry ball turret on the B-17 was entered via a hatch inside the plane. Shown foward of the turret are former B-17 crewmen in the space where the radio operator would have sat.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - This is the rear section of the B-17 occupied by the twin waist gunners. Shown here are the large ammunition boxes that fed their .50 caliber Browning machine guns.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A .50 caliber Browning machine was stationed on each side of the B-17 in the so-called waist position behind the wings.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - This mechanism controlled the bomb bay and release of munitions in the B-17F.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The B-17F 'Memphis Belle' was used in the movie of the same name. It sits here on the tarmac at the Hillsboro Airport.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The view out of port window in the nose section of the B-17 containing the 'cheek' machine gun.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A final look at the nose section of the B-17 from the bombardier's chair.




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