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Soar over Long Beach in original B-17 named for the Memphis Belle

March 27, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The B-17 dubbed the Movie Memphis Belle will be flying passengers over Long Beach on Saturday.
The B-17 dubbed the Movie Memphis Belle will be flying passengers over Long… (Liberty Foundation )

Take a spin over Long Beach or Burbank in a World War II B-17 bomber and get an inkling of what U.S. servicemen experienced during active duty. Passengers who board the vintage aircraft, called the Movie Memphis Belle, can tour the glass nose, cockpit, bomb bay and gunner stations while in the air.

"The flight in the B-17 is hands-on history, our heritage, not in mothballs or the pages of a dusty book," Scott Maher, director of operations for the Georgia-based Liberty Foundation, said in an email.

The foundation has restored the bomber and keeps the historic aircraft flying. The B-17 is one of more than 12,000 built by Boeing between 1935 and 1945; just 13, including this one, still fly.

It's an original, but it never was used in combat, though it has a Hollywood claim to fame, the foundation's website says. As a tribute to the original Memphis Belle, which was the first B-17 to log 25 missions, the plane has been painted in the same colors and bears the same artwork on the nose. This plane appeared in the 1990 movie "Memphis Belle."

Flights cost $450 per person, and the plane holds nine people. Passengers are in the air about half an hour, with extra time tacked on for a safety drill and a history lesson. Flights require reservations and are offered from Long Beach Airport on Saturday and from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank on April 6 and 7. The plane then heads north to Bakersfield (April 13) and Fresno (April 14). Ground tours also are offered for free.

To make a reservation or find out more information, call the Liberty Foundation at (918) 340-0243.

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