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An old warrior takes to the sky again

Liberty Foundation invites public to fly on WWII Boeing B-17


On May 5 and 6, a Flying Fortress will be soaring through the skies above Colorado.

Its name is the Madras Maiden and it’s a 1944 Boeing B-17 — a World War II bomber plane that can tell a story from more than 70 years ago.

The B-17 “represents an era in our history,” said John Shuttleworth, who piloted the plane on an April 30 media flight. “This airplane really signifies the sacrifices our pilots made.”

The Boeing B-17’s first flight took place on July 28, 1935. Between that year and May 1945, 12,732 were produced and 4,735 were lost in combat. Today, less than 100 B-17 airframes exist and the Liberty Foundation’s Madras Maiden is one of 12 that is still in flying condition.

“We’d love to see them run forever,” said Chris Tuckfield, the co-pilot for the media flight, “but that’s just not possible.”

The Madras Maiden’s museum home is in Oregon, but it travels to different cities in the U.S. about 40 out the 52 weeks in a year, Tuckfield said. It makes its way to Denver once a year, usually in the late spring or early summer, Shuttleworth added.

Hearing or seeing a B-17 flying overhead was something people in the 1930s and 1940s were accustomed to, Shuttleworth said. So, today, taking a flight on the Madras Maiden give people a first-hand experience of what it would have been like back then, he added.

It is unique over seeing it in a museum, Tuckfield added.

“This one comes to life,” he said. “It’s living history. We’re fast losing the people from World War II. It’s important to understand the sacrifices they made.”


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