Boeing 17 flies high on Labor Day in Montgomery

Published 7:49 pm Monday, September 3, 2018

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress made a safe landing on Monday at the Montgomery Regional Airport in Montgomery.

A dozen local media members took a short 20-minute flight on the “Madras Maiden” from Dannelly Field. It’s part of the Liberty Foundation’s 2018 Salute to Veterans Tour. Don Brooks founded the Liberty Foundation, a 501 (c) Museum to honor his father and the thousands who served in the 381st and others who fought for the Allies.

Lt. Colonel Ray Fowler, a chief pilot for the Liberty Foundation, flew the plane into town from their headquarters in Douglasville, Georgia. He was surprised at the high volume of media wanting a ride.

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“We usually don’t get this many people turnout,” Fowler said. “Montgomery isn’t a big market for this kind of thing.”

Jim Lawrence, a retired B-17 pilot with Marines, Navy and Air Force, was on hand. He fought battles in Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We’ve got a lot of great military in the area and there’s a lot of great patriots in the state of Alabama,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence, 72, also explained the purpose of bringing the B-17 to events across the country. The

B-17 is a four-engine bomber developed by the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) for heavy bombing and used by the U.S. in World War II.

Between 1935 and 1945, there were 12,732 B-17’s produced and 4,735 were lost in combat, according to the Liberty Foundation. The B-17’s were also used during wars in Korea, Isreal and Vietnam. Only 13 B-17 planes are still operating today.

“We’re using the plane to show the young people about history of the B-17,” Lawrence said. “A lot of men in World War II flew the B-17 and some lost their lives.”

A Red Tails over Montgomery airshow will be held on Saturday at Dannelly Field. Rides for the Madras Maiden will be available Sunday and it costs $450.

“This show is a big deal for the Montgomery area,” Fowler said.