The WWII vintage Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress featured in these photographs was purchased by the Collings Foundation in 1986, and restored to its current configuration by Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft. It has been painted to represent the “Nine-O-Nine” in honor of a 91st Bomb Group, 323rd Squadron Flying Fortress which completed 140 missions without an abort or loss of a crewman. This aircraft, along with a restored Consolidated B-24J Liberator and North American P-51C Mustang visits approximately 110 cities around the United States each year as part of the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour.
I recently had the privilege of photographing and riding in Nine-O-Nine when she visited the Wings Over Miami Air Museum. The low altitude 3o minute flight gives the riders some small sense of what it was like for the crews that flew these magnificent machines into combat in the skies high above Europe. The feeling was uncanny, and one that I will never forget. Check out the foundation’s website for the tour schedule, and if you find that these aircraft will be visiting an airport near you, it will be well worth the effort to go see and experience them first hand.