Meadville Tribune

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July 16, 2013

Memphis Belle B-17 on area educational mission



History of the plane

The movie Memphis Belle B-17 Flying Fortress visiting Erie this weekend was built in April 1945 and was put into storage, never flying a mission in World War II. It was eventually used for many years by the military as a transport and then sold as surplus and repurposed as a firefighting water tanker plane.

In 1982 it was purchased by the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation, which was started by wartime B-17 pilot David Tallichet, and restored. During this time the B-17G was reworked to resemble a B-17F model.

In 1989 the plane was hired for use in the filming of the Memphis Belle movie in England and has continued since then with the name and paint scheme applied at that time.

Today the plane is operated by the Liberty Foundation as a nonprofit living history museum. It is flown and crewed by volunteers. The Foundation spends about $1.5 million a year to keep the plane airworthy. And the 1,700 gallons of aviation fuel needed to fill the plane’s tanks sells for between $6 and $7 a gallon.

The Foundation tours the plane around the United States about six months out of every year. On-ground tours are free and open to the public. Flights are available for $450 per person. Revenue from the flights, souvenir sales and donations are the Foundation’s only income. The Foundation receives no government support.


You can go

The movie Memphis Belle B-17 Flying Fortress is now parked at 1605 Asbury Road, Erie, where it can be viewed from the fence separating the road from the grounds of Erie International Airport.

The public can view the plane up close and tour the interior for free Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to sunset. The public can access the plane through North Coast Flight School’s offices at 1605 Asbury Road.

Flights are available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for $450 per person. Flights can booked online at or by calling (918) 340-0243.

Flights, the sale of souvenirs and donations are the only source of revenue for the nonprofit living history museum that operates the plane, the Liberty Foundation. The Foundation does not receive government support.

Did you know?

It is estimated that only one in three airmen, including B-17 crews, survived the battle over Europe in World War II.

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