Recently my great friend Andy called me up and told me he was designing a web site for a non-profit mobile museum. A mobile museum that flies in the air. A B-17 bomber!!!
The B-17 has been one of my favorite planes since I was little and saw a TV show in the 80's called Amazing Stores. An episode entitled "The Mission" revolved around the belly gunner of a B-17 bomber. I was fascinated that a plane could be large enough to walk around in and have so many compartments and stations. It was neat to see a team that worked together to operate a complex machine for such a dangerous purpose.
Later I saw a movie called The Memphis Belle, which was about a real-life B-17 crew that flew over Germany, and an animated segment from the animated "art film" Heavy Metal that featured a B-17. Each story I saw with a B-17 in it just intensified my interest in the plane.
So my friend Andy called me and told me that the mobile museum was going to be in the Atlanta area and would be giving rides. The rides were pretty steep at 400 some-odd dollars for a forty-minute ride, so I opted to simply see the plane in action... which is all I really needed.
I arrived at the local airport while the plane was in flight, and walked up to a chain-link fence where a group had gathered. I met up with Andy and talked a little before the plane finally roared into view. It had already landed out of view but taxied, fully functional, right up to the fence where we stood.
The enormity of the plane overwhelmed me. My eyes swept across its gleaming silver surface and my hair blew in the wash of the props as it did a one-eighty and slowed to a stop. I ran along the length of the plane and spied the pilot through a window high on top, and the classic forties-style pinup girl painted on the side of the fuselage with the words "Liberty Belle" in block letters next to it.
What an experience!