History came alive when some of the most iconic aircraft flown in World War II made a stop in the city of Douglas. Its been over 75 years since the B-17 ‘Flying Fortress, Texas Raiders’ lifted into the skies over Europe—protecting this nation. This air armada holding up to 6,000 lbs. of artillery and a crew of only 10, represents a freedom that didn’t come so easy. “To see these planes that actually preserved our freedom that’s just a remarkable feeling”, Mayor Tony Paulk. That feeling being made possible by the Commemorative Air Force. They travel across the country to give this experience to communities.
Currently there are only 3 of the B-17’s being used as a flying museum. Giving the opportunity for a different kind of learning. “We fly them so that we can go to communities instead of being stuck in a museum where people would have to come to us. But we take the B-17 to the people,” said Len Root, Pilot/Trainer for the Texas Radiers,”To experience things by crawling through and seeing how rudimentary things were for . I think it opens peoples’ eyes.” Douglas is a special place for the Warbirds to visit. Being the home of a WWII training base. Carl McDonald plays a huge role in airbase preservation within the city and is excited to showcase all aspects of this rich history to his community. ” trained at this base somewhere between 5-8 or 9 thousand cadets here who flew during WWII so this is a historic place,” said McDonald. With great history, comes the responsibility to remember. “I felt the veterans. I felt the airman. I knew they were there. I could hear their voices. You know. I can tell their experience and it brings it home. In a way that nothing in a book or a video ever can ” Nancy Kwiecien, Executive Officer for the Gulf Coast Wing, Commemorative Airforce The Warbird Expo will continue through June 2nd.