A World War II era B-17 bomber nicknamed the “Madras Maiden” is back in Buffalo this week at Prior Aviation on North Airport Drive in Cheektowaga. For some background information on the B-17 and its role in helping the allies win World War II, click here.
I got a chance to fly in the aircraft for a spell, which I was absolutely thrilled about.
I have taken some notes from the information provided, to offer readers a condensed version.
The B-17 is a marvel to behold up close. It is an amazing piece of engineering that too many forget was figured out with a pencil and a slide rule, and not a computer. The old machine leaks a little oil and burns gas with blue exhaust, and it’s kind of loud. But the opportunity to ride in a propeller driven 1944 B-17 bomber is special. The plane is totally hands on when you are up in the air; you can man the wing gunner’s posts, man the nose gunner’s post under the flight deck, or look out the top of the plane through the sun roof. It truly is a unique experience – ground tours of the plane are free.
Going up in the air to see Buffalo from above is an opportunity that not many people get to experience. The flight goes out from the airport towards the river and then turns south and does a loop around downtown. It is neat to look out of the windows and identify familiar buildings and neighborhoods from the air. I was able to see my house from a few thousand feet up. It is also a unique view to see how the city is actually laid out with one’s own eyes.
The B-17 flight experience took about 45 minutes with approximately half hour in flight. B-17 Flights are $410 for Liberty Foundation members and $450 for non-members. Passengers can become a Liberty Foundation Member for $40 and receive the member discount for family and friends. While the cost to take a flight sounds expensive, it must be put into perspective when compared to the B-17’s operating cost. A Flying Fortress cost is over $5,000 per flight hour. The Liberty Foundation spends over $1,500,000 annually to keep the B-17 airworthy and out on tour.
The aircraft will be open to the public and available for flights and ground tours on Saturday and Sunday August 25-26 at Prior Aviation at 50 N Airport Dr, Buffalo, NY 14225.
For tour and flight information, click here.