Flights available on a World War II B-17 in Elkhart this weekend

(Carli Luca/ News Now Warsaw)

The World War II Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Madras Maiden” will take to the skies over Elkhart this weekend.

It’s the public’s chance to see what crews experienced in combat 70 years ago.

Taking a ride in a B-17 is a rare opportunity as there are only 12 still flyable today of the over 12,000 produced between 1935 and 1945.

Though the “Madras Maiden” did not see combat, it still gives veterans the chance to share their stories with their families, and educates future generations on our country’s aviation history.

“That’s really the mission– to keep the airplane alive. Because when they go into museums and they stop flying and they don’t make the noise, they don’t rumble and people can’t see them fly– we really do lose a piece of our history,” says John Shuttleworth, a volunteer with the Liberty Foundation.

Still, keeping the plane running comes with a cost.

“It’s about $5,000 an hour to operate it, so all of the ride revenue goes to the maintenance, the restoration, and just keeping the airplane going.”

Public flights are available at the Elkhart Municipal Airport Saturday and Sunday, July 7 & 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The 45-minute flight experience comes with a $450 price tag.

“It’s a very maintenance-intensive airplane which translates into cost, so the only way we can do it is by selling the rides and keeping her going as a working girl. 450 bucks a seat, we try to fill it up, and when people no longer value that…unfortunately she’ll go quiet,” says Shuttleworth.

For those who can’t afford the flight, the Liberty Foundation will accept any donation amount in exchange for a tour of the B-17 while its on the ground.

The Liberty Foundation says they spend over $1,500,000 annually to keep the Madras maiden airworthy and out on tour.

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