Liberty Belle 05

The B-17G (SN 44-85734) did not see combat in World War II, and was originally sold on June 25, 1947, as scrap to Esperado Mining Co. of Altus, Oklahoma; it was then sold again later that year for $2,700 to [[Pratt & Whitney|Pratt &
Pratt-Whitney T-34 B-17 testbed NAN10-50

Sold as scrap on June 25, 1947;<!-- to Esperado Mining Co. of Altus, OK--> Pratt & Whitney subsequently bought B-17G 44-85734 (shown with T34 turboprop 

Whitney, who operated the B-17 as a heavily modified test bed (similar to 44-85747 and 44-85813). Following these flights, it was donated to the Connecticut Aeronautical Historic Association, where a tornado on October 3, 1979, blew another aircraft onto the B-17's mid-section, breaking the fuselage.

Liberty Belle B-17G

The B-17 Liberty Belle at El Cajon, California March 2008

The B-17 was eventually purchased by aviation enthusiast Don Brooks, who formed the Liberty Foundation to exhibit the plane as the Liberty Belle. Restoration began in 1992 with parts from another damaged B-17 (44-85813), performed by Tom Reilly and company/Flying Tigers Warbird Restoration Museum (aka "Bombertown USA"), located at that time at Kissimmee Gateway field, Kissimmee, Florida. She returned to the air on December 8, 2004, and had been touring the air show circuit since then. The Liberty Foundation also planned an historic overseas tour in July 2008 along the northern ferry route to England.

Aircraft loss

On the morning of June 13, 2011, Liberty Belle made a forced landing in Oswego, Illinois, after taking off from

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Aurora Municipal Airport (Illinois)|Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove, Illinois.Shortly after takeoff, the pilot of a T-6 Texan chase plane informed Liberty Belles pilot that the B-17 inboard left wing was on fire and advised an immediate landing. The bomber landed successfully in a nearby field and the seven people aboard were able to evacuate without injury, but the fire spread and the plane was destroyed. Plans have been made to restore the aircraft to airworthy.


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