World War II era bomber available for tours & rides in the sky

LEWISTON, ID - A World War II era bomber landed in Lewiston Thursday and the flying history museum will be available for tours this weekend.

It's a perfect day to be a crew member of the B-17 Flying Fortress. Blue skies and giddy passengers awaited the staff who volunteer their time to keep the the World War II era plane running. On Friday, they went up for three rides with eight lucky passengers each time.

The B-17 may look large on the outside but has extremely tight quarters. As you try to get in, you have to crouch as not to hit your head.

"It's crazy to think that people would ride around being in here," said plane enthusiast Kyler Starkey. "I'm claustrophobic so I wouldn't want to ride around in something like this, down in that little tube right there, that's crazy."

Crazy is a pretty fitting word for the view of the L.C. Valley from up above after a smooth but loud takeoff. For the next few days, the B-17 will be in Lewiston for tours and rides in the sky. For some local passengers like Idaho State Senator Dan Johnson, getting a ride means more to him than just a pretty view.

"I'm very grateful to the Commemorative Air Force for keeping this plane in the air and all the folks that are involved in the project," said Johnson. "It's a wonderful program and a tribute to our veterans."

Co-captain Rich Roberts agrees with Johnson and said it's meeting the people who served in these very planes that make his tour worthwhile.

"There's actually quite a few people in the Lewiston area that actually used to fly this airplane and the B-25 and they have a lot of very interesting stories it's great to hear it," said Roberts.

Roberts believes the tours of the museum type plane also bring healing to those who fought in the war.

"Some of them we get them up in the air and on the airplane and some of them kind of reflect on it and it's sort of a little bit of a way for them to get closure for them," said Roberts.

Inside the plane, besides repairs that had to be made, everything is from the time period when it was built in 1944. Enthusiast or not, getting to see a piece of history is something worthwhile.