Historic bomber at airport this week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 20, 2002

A plane out of the past will be landing at Albert Lea Airport for a two-day stay Monday and Tuesday.

The aircraft, Yankee Lady, is one of 12 B-17 Flying Fortress warplanes that are still operational. Among them, only four can take passengers, according to Norm Ellefson of Yankee Air Museum in Belleville, Mich. Built at the end of World War II, Yankee Lady did not have a chance to be assigned a bombing mission. But later, she was active as a firefighter plane in Arizona, Ellefson said.

The museum, known for its specialty in restoring vintage airplanes, purchased the B-17 in 1986, and it took nine years to get in the sky.

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Tours of the aircraft will be offered for $5 from 2 p.m. until dusk Monday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Children ages 6-14 can take the tour for $2.

For those with a little more money to spend, 30-minute guest flights will be offered Monday and Tuesday for $400. Passengers will be assigned seats for takeoff and landing, but once airborne, they will be encouraged to move throughout the airplane and see what all the crew stations were like, except the tail and ball turrets. Flights are scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. Tuesday, weather permitting.

Yankee Lady was originally scheduled to fly in Albert Lea last September, but the visit was canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

B-17s played an essential role in WWII and are best remembered for their daylight bombing missions over Germany. During the war, thousands of B-17s were manufactured.