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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Flying in a B24 Libirator

Story and Photos By Steve Natale

An opportunity to fly in a World War Two bomber is a rare honor and privilege, and truly a dreamcome true for anyone interested in aviation.  Fortunately, thanks to the Collings Foundation, dreams can come true.  The non-profit Collings Foundation, as part of their Wings of Freedom Tour, visits over 120 US cities a year.  They display the planes, educate people on the planes and their role in history, and offer rides.  This year the planes on tour are a B-17 bomber, a P-51 fighter, and the plane I flew in, a B-24 Bomber.
About the B-24
The Consolidated B-24-J Liberator operated by the Collings Foundation is named “Witchcraft” and is painted to honor the 8thAir Force plane that was assigned to the 467BG, 790BS that completed an astounding 130 combat missions.  Although the B-24 was the most mass-produced military aircraft, it is a rare bird today, and according to the Collings Foundation, America’s only flying B-24.
The Flight Experience
Entrance to into the B-24 is gained through the bomb bay doors, and you climb in and grab atwhatever you can to pull yourself up into plane.  The interior is all business. Passengers sit on a variety of small seats, benches, or on the floor of the plane.   I had rear facing seat, with the bottom ball turret below my dangling feet.  I strapped on the military safety belt and got ready for take-off.  Next, I heard the loud sound of four giant Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines come to life and begin to roar.  Soon the plane lifted off, and  I was  free to roam the plane, being careful not to knock my head, and remembering what I was I was told in the pre-flight safety briefing, not to pull on any of the dozens of cables running the length of the plane. The cables are what the pilot uses to control the plane.  There are large openings on both sides of the plane with guns hanging out of them, and the rush from the air blasting in from them is strong, but adds to the fun.  I went down the narrow cat walk to the tail gunner seat where once a crew member defended the plane from attack.  What a view!  I then twisted, wiggled, and crawled to the front of the plane and sat in the nose gunner’s seat.   The view from there was breathtaking!  Before I knew it, the flight was over, but the memories will last forever  See more of Steve's B24 photos

I had the honor and prilivage to fly in a B-24 Liberator last weekend.  Check out the story and in-flight photos here:

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