The first picture show Don Brook's magnificent B17 Flying Fortress 'Liberty Belle' which flew into a very wet Islay Airport from Prestwick yesterday afternoon 3rd July. Both George Rhind and Fiona MacGregor sent me reports of this unique event and Carl Reavey sent me pictures. Thanks very much everyone for your help!
The B17 Flying Fortress Liberty Bell landing at Islay Airport
George Rhind: The aircraft, which was built in 1945, was in poor condition when Don Brooks bought it and it took several years to get the aircraft airworthy for its first post-restoration flight in December 2004. Don Brook's late father Elton flew as a B17 tail gunner with the US Eighth Air Force from Framlington, Suffolk, and Don sees the B17 as a memorial to all the thousands of US aircrew who didn't make it home from the 1939-45 conflict.
The Liberty Belle is due to appear with two other B17s at the Flying Legends Airshow at Duxford on 12th and 13th July and to get the B17 to the UK the pilot, Ray Fowler, flew the aircraft from its home in Atlanta to Bangor, Maine, then on to Goose Bay, Greenland, Reykjavik and finally to Prestwick.
The Flying Fortress at Islay Airport
The Islay visit was the brainchild of Bruno Schroder of Dunlossit (see second part of this post by Fiona) and all the propeller freaks who turned out yesterday at Islay airport in the pouring rain to get up close and personal with one of the few remaining flyable B17s in the world - and the lucky few who actually got a flight in the aircraft - owe him a huge debt of thanks. Continue reading.....Fiona MacGregor from Dunlossit Estate with information how the plane came to be on Islay: ''Mr Bruno L Schroder of Dunlossit thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for Islay locals to have the chance to see this historic plane in action. Some lucky people also got the chance to have a once in a lifetime tour of Islay in the 'Liberty Belle'. Over 50 people entered into the Dunlossit draw but only a few could be chosen. To help with the long wait that some people were to face, Mr Schroder treated those entered into the draw teas and cakes, courtesy of Morag Ross at The Drome Cafe.
Some of the first Islay people on the first tour were the following: Willie Stitchell, Mairi MacGillivray aged 11, Peter MacGillivray (this was Peter's 70th Birthday treat), John Macgowan and Vivien Porter (Islay airport crew). The people on the second tour were: Duncan Stewart, Gordon Muir and Nick Bowman. There was going to be a third tour but unfortunately due to weather conditions turning for the worse, it was cancelled, leaving a few disappointed people, but never fear, as in true Islay style, nothing ever runs to plan.
The B17 on the Runway
Late on Thursday evening, the Dunlossit office were informed that there was the chance of four seats going on the return flight to Prestwick early the next morning. Mr Schroder graciously offered to fly the four lucky people back to Islay in his private plane. So, as the time of writing, there are four extremely happy people presently somewhere in the skies in a 2nd World War B17 Bomber.
Dunlossit would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that came along and took part in the day and for making it a special and memorable occasion.
The B17 on the platform with airport staff
The B17 on the platform seen from the tower
The beautiful painted nose of the B17