The Liberty Aviation Museum today announced that World War II veterans will be able to experience a unique and different kind of Honor Flight this season.
“This all becomes possible because our friends up at The Yankee Air Museum (YAM) recently announced they will be honoring WW II veterans with free rides on the B-17 Yankee Lady and B-25 Yankee Warrior when a paid rider accompanies them,” states Jeff Sondles, Operations Director of the Liberty Aviation Museum. “This special two-for-one pricing is effective for the season, beginning in May and running into October.”
“All of us feel the deepest honor when a World War II veteran steps aboard one of our aircraft,” said Kevin Walsh, Executive Director of Yankee Air Museum. “We want as many World War II veterans as possible to have the opportunity to fly on the B-17 or B-25. This is a special offer for them and an imperative for us.”
America’s Greatest Generation will be recognized and commemorated at numerous 70th Anniversary WWII Events throughout the world. The World War II veterans are now in their upper 80’s and 90’s. “The flights are opportunities to continually pay tribute to these veterans,” says Walsh.
“This year it’s the time to take dad or grandpa back through time to the era and skies where heroes have flown,” said Walsh, concluding, “and it’s time to go with him.”
While some WWII Veterans fly in the Yankee Lady and Yankee Warrior every year, usually accompanied by a son, daughter or grandchild, Walsh hopes this incentive will bring them out in scores.
“We’ve flown a lot of vets, especially airmen and many who were shot down and taken prisoner,” said Norm Ellickson, Crew Chief of the B-17. “It’s impossible to imagine the thoughts they have during these flights. For some it’s a last hoorah, I’m sure. For others it’s more somber, like a final farewell, closing a gap on the mission well done. One thing for sure is that in every case, it’s all good!”
Ellickson said that a veteran’s presence on any flight enriches the experience for everyone on board. He added that veterans from all branches of the military are interested in the bombers, but especially those from the Army Air Forces.
The fee for a Flexible Experience (FLEX) ride on the B-17 is $450. A FLEX ride is a 45-minute experience with approximately 30 minutes of air time.
“The Liberty Aviation Museum is proud and fortunate to host the Yankee Lady on seven occasions this season,” said Sondles. “Our first occasion is May 14 and 15, which coincides with the return visit to the museum of the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit. This inspirational exhibit tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to young people all across America, and will include a flying Red Tail P-51 Mustang and local Tuskegee Pilot Lt. Col. (Ret.) Harold Brown.”
Other dates the Yankee Lady will be conducting operations out of the Liberty Aviation Museum are June 4, June 25, July 12, Aug. 24, Sept. 10 and Oct. 1.
Those interested in booking a FLEX Ride and flying with their WWII heroes are encouraged to plan early, as some of the premium dates sell out early. To order a FLEX Ride or to obtain a gift certificate, call Dave Wright, Director of the FLEX Ride program at 734.483.4030, extension 236, or visit www.yankeeairmuseum.org to learn more details. Since the YAM is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, the ticket costs are tax deductible within the limits of the law and will directly support the B-17. Certain restrictions and limitations apply and WWII veterans may be asked to provide documentation of their service. Veterans from all branches of the military are eligible to participate.