Flying Fortress preps for flight over Tucson
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A special World War II bomber has landed at Tucson International Airport. And in just a few days, the B-17 used in the World War II movie "Memphis Belle" will take flight again. And this time you could be on-board.
9OYS talked to one WWII veteran pilot who remembers all to well what it was like to fly it in the heat of battle.
"We were attacked by an estimated 600 enemy fighters on our way in and on our way out," said Richard Bushong. "It was scary."
But at just 20 years old, Bushong, a WWII pilot, had to stare fear in the face. He did it from the cockpit of a B-17 bomber.
"If you're not scared when somebody is shooting at you, you gotta be a little crazy," Bushong said. "We did what we had to do."
Tuesday, the "Movie Memphis Belle", sat far away from any war zone at Tucson International Airport. The warplane used in the WWII flick, "Memphis Belle". It never actually saw battle, but Richard and so many other pilots did.
"We grew old in a hurry," said Bushong. "We helped bomb Germany into submission."
Together, crews of 10 in these "Flying Fortresses" dropped bombs on key targets across Europe, exchanging serious firepower with German fighters.
Bushong survived 28 missions on-board a B-17.
"It was a tough old airplane," said Bushong.
He even survived a day raid in Berlin. Many of his fellow airmen wouldn't be so lucky.
"That was a terrible mission," said Bushong. "We lost 69 heavy bombers that day."
A small toll considering by the end of the war, the U.S. had lost nearly 5,000 bombers, countless more lives in flight. Flash forward to present day and fewer than 15 of the B-17 bombers can still take to the skies.
"I hope they gain an insight as to how tough it was," said Bushong. "But they have to imagine someone was shooting at them."
The general public can hop on board the B-17 this weekend. For more information, click here.