Dave Hirschman

Liberty Belle’s European Vacation

May 13, 2008 by Dave Hirschman, Senior Editor

“Liberty Belle,” a beautifully restored B-17G, is headed to Europe (and back) this summer–and the nearly 8,000 mile odyssey is likely to mark the last time a Flying Fortress ever stretches its wings across an ocean.

Don Brooks of rural Douglass, Georgia, started the Liberty Belle Foundation to honor his dad, a B-17 crewmember, and other veterans. Now, the airplane that flew as part of the 390th Bomb Group in England is making a final trip to the site of its wartime service. It should be interesting to see the reaction it gets there.

Getting the airplane across the Atlantic and back is going to be a major logistical and financial effort. The longest leg is less than 1,000 miles–less than half the airplane’s maximum range of 1,850 miles. But avgas can be hard to find in Greenland and Iceland, and high prices combined with unfavorable currency exchange rates will make U.S. pump prices seem like a bargain. At economy cruise, the airplane’s four Wright 1820s burn about 250 gallons of fuel (and about five gallons of oil) an hour. The foundation estimates the trip will cost at least $275,000.

Brooks knows what he’s getting into, though. He flew his DC-3 to France to drop parachutists over Normandy for a D-Day anniversary, and he’s flown to Greenland many times as part of the team that recovered “Glacier Girl,” the P-38 that had long been buried under the ice cap.

For a detailed schedule and more information about the Liberty Belle’s upcoming adventure, visit the foundation’s Web site: http://libertyfoundation.org/

   For a map of the Liberty Belle’s route: http://libertyfoundation.org/european-tour.html

   Good Luck!

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