World War II Bomber Plane Hitting the Sky at National Cherry Festival

The World War II B-17 bomber plane, otherwise known as the Flying Fortress, will be hitting the skies this weekend at the National Cherry Festival, and you can too.

The Yankee Air Museum offers half hour trips around Grand Traverse Bay. The flight offers incredible views, as well as a unique look at an iconic, historic plane.

“Everyone seems to understand, this is an iconic aircraft,” said Gene Wedekemper, a B-17 pilot. “There were so many people that sacrificed their lives. Any bomber was such a dangerous mission back in the World War II.”

The B-17 aircraft in Traverse City this weekend was one of the last ones produced in the war. It’s still in good shape, because it never saw combat. But many planes weren’t as lucky.

More than 12,000 “Yankee Ladies” were built during the war, and only 7,000 returned home.

“We need to realize if it wasn’t World War II veterans and what they have done, we wouldn’t have the freedom we have today,” said Wedekemper.

Wedekemper leads frequent flights, and says passengers often become emotional witnessing the aircraft, and thinking about its significance. He says it has brought some World War II veterans to tears.

“I remember one time in particular [the veteran] laid his hand on the airplane and started crying because it was such an emotional experience for him,” said Wedekemper.

The Yankee Lady will join the Blue Angels and other aircrafts and aerobatic planes in Traverse City this weekend. The air show performances are Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

For more information on a private ride in the Yankee Lady, click here.


Categories: National Cherry Festival