Memphis Belle takes flight over Smyrna - WKRN News 2

Memphis Belle takes flight over Smyrna

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SMYRNA, Tenn. -

The historic Memphis Belle, a living museum, was in the air over Rutherford County on Thursday afternoon.

Among those gathered to see the historic plane included World War II Veterans Dick Harris and Glenn Hale.

Both men were B-17 bomber pilots who flew with the 8th Air Force in England.

On Thursday afternoon the veterans were given the opportunity to take a ride on the Memphis Belle.

"An opportunity to fly on a B-17 is awesome," Hale said.

He said seeing the bomber brings back both good and bad memories.

Hale made 14 missions before engine trouble caused his B-17 to go down over Poland were he was captured and became a POW.  

Harris said he flew 18 missions before his B-17 was shot down. He and his entire crew survived jumping from the airplane and time in a German Prisoner of War Camp.

"We got shot down in November and got out of prison the next April," he recalled.

Harris said jumping out of an airplane at 20,000 feet is not the easiest thing to do and he remembers giving his radio operator a helping hand to jump out of his bomber, which was on fire.

"He had one foot on the bulk head and one foot on the walkway that goes through the middle of the bomb bay," Harris explained.

The radio man told Harris he would rather go down with the airplane then jump.

"[I] kicked his foot and [he's], gone," said Harris. "Every Christmas after that, I got a Christmas card from him saying thank you for kicking me out of the airplane."

The Memphis Belle is in Smyrna thanks to the Liberty Foundation which allows the public to experience a living museum in person by riding, touching and experiencing a piece of history in real life.

The Liberty Foundation is offering rides on Father's Day weekend on the Memphis Belle and a Curtiss P-40E "Warhawk" fighter.

The Memphis Belle is one of only eight remaining B-17 which are still flying and was the actual airplane used to make the 1990 movie "Memphis Belle."

To schedule a flight, call 918-340-0243.

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