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Sunday, July 25, 2010


Schenectady is sort of old. Not as old as Rome, but 1661 isn't too shabby. A lot of our local history is gone. Plowed under to make way for development, or the caretakers died, or, or, or...

By our usual standards, we might not consider this plane historic. She didn't drop any bombs, didn't end (or start) a war, and she was built in 1944, so she isn't really that old.

But it isn't the physical aircraft that's historic, it's the feelings she evokes in people when she flies in. Liberty Belle is a B-17, the plane nicknamed the Flying Fortress because of all the self-defence guns poking out of them. This type of plane carried out many bombing missions in Europe in WWII, and one of the reasons this particular plane brings out fond memories was her reputation to take battle damage and still fly home.

When I went to see Liberty Belle, she was at the Albany airport. It had rained earlier, messing up their schedule. As a means of raising money to keep her flying, the organisation that owns her takes people for brief (an hour or so) flights. For a fee, of course. I had hoped to climb aboard for a ground tour, but they had so many people who wanted flights that they were going to be busy flying.

She was a thing of wonder to see glide in. Not many B-17s are still flying; around a dozen. An amazing, historic aircraft.

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