The Flying Fortress was made famous in its role in the Daylight Strategic Bombing Campaign of WWII and the post-war movies, like Memphis Belle, that made it an icon. Now this B-17 is no longer avoiding anti-aircraft fire or enemy fighters but has exchanged its explosive warheads in order to drop people from the bomb bay.


The four-engine taildragger was built in 1945, too late to see combat, and now flies as part the World War II aircraft collection with the Collings Foundation. This particular B-17 has served many roles over the years including Air and Sea Rescue, a water bombing firefighter, as well a testing the effects of three different nuclear explosion. Jumpers for the Chicagoland Skydiving Center had the rare opportunity drop from the belly of the antique bomber.

The Collings B-17 is part of the Wings of Freedom Flight Experience that is currently touring the country and gives patrons the opportunity to take flights in a variety of warbirds including the B-24 and B-25 bombers as well as a P-51 Mustang. Flights aren't cheap, but the majority of the cost is a tax-deductible donation to a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit and the chance to ride in one of these vintage aircraft might be considered priceless.


Chris is a pilot who loves airplanes and cars and his writing has been seen on Jalopnik. Contact him with questions or comments via twitter or email.

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