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Mobtown Beat

Belle Raisers

World War II B-17, “the Flying Fortress,” soars over Baltimore

Photo:  <a href="">Sam Holden</a>, License: N/A

Sam Holden

Memphis Belle

Nearly 13,000 were built to fight World War II, but no more than 14 Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortresses” are airworthy these days, and only one flies under the guise of the Memphis Belle, the name made world-famous in 1943, after it and crew completed 25 bombing missions in Europe. In those days—before long-range fighter escorts could protect them—about a quarter of the allied bombers sent on any raid didn’t come back. Memphis Belle’s Capt. Robert Morgan and crew were both good and lucky, and they returned to the States for a war bond tour. A documentary, Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, was made and formed the basis for Memphis Belle, starring Matthew Modine and Erik Stoltz, in 1990—in which this plane starred. You want to see it close up? Head over to Martin Airport on Aug. 18 or 19. Tours are free, though donations are gratefully accepted. Want a ride? Call ahead: (918) 340-0243. Be prepared to shell out $450—planes like this cost about $4,000-a-minute to keep alive when in flight. The group that operates this one is trying to raise millions to repair another one—the Liberty Belle—that burned last year. Oh, and the original Memphis Belle? That’s in an Ohio hanger, undergoing restoration for museum appearances.



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