Public invited to fly WWII era bomber in Temecula

B-17 Flying Fortress
B-17 Flying Fortress
Experimental Aircraft Association

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A restored World War Two-era bomber is coming to an airport near Temecula – and you can be a passenger.

It’ll cost $399 a ticket to head into the wild blue yonder for half an hour aboard the retired B-17 “Flying Fortress”. But it’ll set you back just $5 to walk through the mammoth World War II bomber when it rests on the tarmac of the French Valley Airport near Temecula.

The U.S. Army Air Corps used the “Flying Fortress” as a workhorse before and during World War II. But the B-17 on display this week never saw combat. It launched in 1945, after the military replaced the B-17 with the B-24 bomber.

The B-24 “Liberator” could fly faster and drop more bombs, but pilots said it was also harder to fly. That’s one of the reasons the old B-17’s are still sentimental favorites with flying enthusiasts.

The B-17 is in French Valley as part of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s "Salute to Veterans" tour. The “Flying Fortress” will remain in French Valley through Wednesday. Details are available online at www.B17.org. The bomber will make several other Southland stops over the next two weeks before it moves on to other cities across the country.