SAN ANTONIO -- A World War II B-17 flying fortress is making a stop in San Antonio for tours and public flights.
Liberty Foundation is stopping by various cities this month to showcase the aircraft, named Madras Maiden, for its "Salute to Veterans" tour. The organization said the tours are a tribute to the courage and commitment of those who served our country. The B-17 has never been available to the public for flights until now.
Several media outlets including Eyewitness News were invited to get a sneak peek inside.
"This aircraft actually went to Europe with a crew of 10 and most often, it would come back with heavy, heavy losses," said pilot Ray Fowler.
Bev Barr, a feature reporter for the Bandera County Courier, said her father, Earl Clifton Barr Jr. was a radio operator for the Army Air Corps.
"I didn't go in thinking I'd be sitting in the very spot that my dad served in," said Barr. "Just to imagine, which I like to do anyway as a writer, I like to imagine the world from other people's perspective. But to know my dad so well and to sit where he sat and to really just try to imagine that world."
Air Force veteran and a political cartoonist for the Bandera County Courier, Dennis Allyn, echoed the same sentiment.
"My father was a gunnery instructor in World War II," said Allyn. "Just to imagine what it must have been like in World War II, flying in that plane. All those gunners, a lot of them never came home. It can be very emotional."
Fowler said the aircraft burns through $2,000 an hour in fuel alone, and the operating costs are somewhere between $3500-$4,000.
"It is expensive but we want to keep it going so people can see it here versus it sitting in a museum," said Fowler.
"If anybody has an opportunity to come down here and do it this weekend, just do it. You won't be sorry.There's no good excuse to not be here," said Allyn.
The tour and public flights are available October 28-29 at the Stinson Municipal Airport. The flights will start at 10 a.m. and the ground tours are from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can call (918)-340-0243 or click here for more information.