A Fortress Visits Florida

One of the most widely recognized aircraft types of World War II, the B-17 Flying Fortress, takes to the skies again. Restored to its wartime configuration by the nonprofit Collings Foundation, the B-17G “Nine-O-Nine” made a stop in Naples (KAPF) today as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour.

The foundation’s Flying Fortress (Serial #44-83575) was completed in Long Beach, CA on April 7, 1945. Although too late to see combat, it served as part of the Air/Sea 1st Rescue Squadron, and later in the Military Air Transport Service. For 20 years, #44-83575 served as a fire bomber, dropping water and borate on forest fires.

Typically also including a B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, and P-51 Mustang, this living history tour makes over 120 stops per year. Aircraft can be toured for a fee, and flight experiences are also available. I, personally, have taken flights on both “Nine-O-Nine” and “Witchcraft”, the foundation’s B-24J.

Support of the Collings Foundation and the Wings of Freedom Tour will continue to keep aviation history alive for future generations. I always look forward to spending time with these amazing aircraft whenever they make a stop near me.

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