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TAKING FLIGHT: The B-17 ‘Madras Maiden’ in Des Moines

Earlier this week our Brandon Lawrence had a chance to take a flight across the Des Moines metro in a B-17 plane.
Aboard the B-17

Earlier this week our Brandon Lawrence had a chance to take a flight across the Des Moines metro in a B-17 plane. 

The aircraft and its volunteer pilots are touring the nation as a way to help keep the stories of World War II veterans alive.

Over 70 years have passes since the end of World War II, but the engines are still roaring and the propellers are still spinning on the B-17 Madras Maiden.

The aircraft was never actually in combat, but was rather used for research and for cargo transport between Florida and the Caribbean.

“A lot of the airplanes were coming out of the factory still due to the outflow of material, and with the cessation of conflict over in Europe, a lot of these airplanes went directly into surplus and were sold off.” 

Now over a half-century later, it’s one of only 12 B-17s left in operation.

The plane is being featured this week in Des Moines as part of the Liberty Foundation’s nationwide ‘Salute to Veterans’ tour– offering flights and ground visits for history buffs across central Iowa.

Volunteer pilot David Lyon says having an opportunity to fly the Madras Maiden and share its history is his way of helping preserve the legacy of World War II veterans.

“Getting to meet the veterans and hearing some of the stories that have never been told before, that’s really the highlight of this.”, explains Lyon.

Stories he says are becoming few and far between in our world today.

“It;s kind of getting watered down to the new generations as to what these veterans did, the sacrifices they made so that we can do and enjoy what we’re enjoying today. And a lot of that’s being lost– so we are a living history museum or tour, if you want to put it that way.” 

If you’re a history fan and would love an opportunity to board the B-17, the Liberty Foundation plans to offer flights at Des Moines International Airport on Sunday, June 25th.
Tickets for the flights are $450 each.
If you can’t do that, there are also ground tours available Sunday as well. Those tours will be free to the public.
For more information on reserving a spot on the flight, contact Scot Maher with the Liberty Foundation at (918) 340-0243 or via email at smaher@libertyfoundation.org.