Nearly 70 years after it was built, one B17 Bomber is still flying high.
When World War II ended, the Yankee Lady was one of the last B17s off the assembly line, and was used for Coast Guard patrols, crop dusting and fighting forest fires before it was acquired by the Yankee Air Museum.
"Basic hydraulics and electrical and it runs it runs it runs and it's a sweetheart,” said line pilot Jon Rule.
Monday in Lower Township, it wasn’t explosives the bomber carried. Instead it was World War II veterans Floyd Nellit, who watched from his Navy ship as planes flew over Normandy, and Bob Leach, who fought in the battle of Anzio before being taken as a prisoner of war in Poland.
"That was great. We really enjoyed ourselves all over the plane,” said Leach.
The Yankee Air Museum, based in Detroit, gives veterans like Nellit and Leach the chance to fly in this authentic World War II Era plane.
"You operate in today's environment. Every once in a while you have flashbacks and you look and think of what they must have gone through during the war at times,” said line pilot Duane Nelson.
"It was extremely cold, you know, long missions, no pressurization, no heat."
"These young men, they were fearless to climb in this thing and keep us all from speaking German," said line pilot Jon Rule.
"I was wondering, it's not too thick, to stop 50 caliber bullets,” laughed Leach.
The crew of the Yankee Lady says the plane inspires a wide range of emotions in veterans.
"All the way from smiles and laughs and good feelings and the next person'll sit there and cry and want to get out of it. Like I say it's one extreme to another,” said Nelson.
"I'll always have memories of the war as far as that goes, and I try to forget it," said Leach, while the Yankee Lady continues its mission to make sure that future generations never forget.
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