At the Shreveport Downtown Airport a rare sight made its way through the cloudy sky Thursday afternoon. Just 1 of 9 remaining flyable B-17 aircraft arrived ahead of the Defenders of Liberty Air Show at Barksdale Air Force Base.
The 'Texas Raiders' aircraft has undergone eight years of renovation and is owned by the Commemorative Air Force and operated by the Gulf Coast Wing.
The B-17 'Flying Fortress' served as the United States long range bomber during WWII battles over Europe and the Pacific often flying deep into enemy territory. Of the almost 13,000 manufactured nearly 5,000 were lost in battle.
Almost as rare as the surviving flyable aircraft are B-17 crew that served during WWII alive today. Sgt. Chuck Newhouse, USAAF (RET) served with the 381st Bomber Group, 535th Squadron and was based in Ridgewell, England. Sgt. Newhouse was at the airport to greet the aircraft Thursday.
"I think it was in 10 days we pulled 6 missions," he says, noting that because of his small size he was assigned to be a gunner in the aircraft's ball turret.
The distinct sound of the B-17 engine still stirs emotion in Sgt. Newhouse, now 88, who fought back tears as he recalled memories aboard an aircraft named 'Heavenly Body'.
"They just pointed their finger at you of course, but you did it and i'm glad I was there. I'm glad I was there."
The public will be available to tour or purchase rides on the B-17 at the Downtown Airport until 4 p.m. Friday and until noon on Monday.
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