Iconic B-17 Flying Fortress bomber visits Calgary area on tour

It was an unusual sight in the skies over Calgary: one of the few remaining B-17 Flying Fortress bombers could be seen and heard as it circled the city Wednesday.

The bomber, owned by the U.S.-based Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), is on the Canadian leg of a North American tour.

From Thursday to Sunday, it will be on display at Springbank Airport (YBW) just west of Calgary.

“We didn’t know what to expect, coming up here. We’re still learning to speak Canadian,” joked Ken Morris, one of the plane’s pilots.

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His wife, Lorraine, is also a pilot on this leg of the tour.

“It’s pretty amazing to fly it,” she said. “In the beginning it’s all about flying the plane, and then it really quickly becomes the veterans you meet and the volunteers you meet at every stop.”

“It’s a lot of history, so it’s amazing.”

The historical aspect of the B-17, and the role the long-range bomber played in Europe, are the reasons for the tour.

“A lot of good men were lost protecting our freedoms, and that’s what we’re portraying here,” Ken Morris said.

“The eighth air force alone, which was England-based, lost 48,000 during World War II.”

The B-17 was dubbed the Flying Fortress because of its defensive capabilities.

The aircraft was equipped with 13 50-caliber machine guns. It conducted day raids over enemy territory without a fighter escort.

In a 10-year span, 12,732 B-17s were produced. Of those, 4,735 were lost.

On hand for a flight on the B-17 was Doug Curtis, a 94-year-old veteran who flew 48 missions as a tail gunner in a Lancaster bomber.

Curtis said he’s glad to see the B-17 on tour.

“Lest we forget. Never forget. What these guys are doing in Afghanistan or whatever, or what we did in the First and Second World War,” Curtis said.

“As long as people remember.”

The public is welcome to tour the B-17.  There are also limited spaces for flights.

Information on hours and pricing is available here.

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