99-year-old WWII veteran takes to skies in B-17 once more

Apr 23, 2018, 9:10 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A 99-year-old Word War II veteran got to take flight in a warbird he hasn’t flown in more than 70 years.

The Liberty Foundation brought the B-17 Flying Fortress, the “Madras Maiden,” to Salt Lake City Monday. They will offer rides to the public April 28 and 29. It is one of only 12 B-17s that still fly.

Richard Stucki

On Monday, Richard Stucki, who was an instructor pilot on the B-17 during World War II, got to take a special flight.

“He’s got butterflies in his stomach. He couldn’t be more excited to get back in that airplane!” his grandson, Richard Hixson said.

The family organized the ride for Stucki’s upcoming 100th birthday. As the bomber roared down the runway, Stucki sat at the radio operator’s position, enjoying the view out the window. Several of his family members rode along as the “Madras Maiden” flew up and down the Salt Lake Valley.

After the flight, Stucki said he enjoyed the ride and complimented the crew on their flying.

“Nice and smooth,” Stucki said. “They made good landings, too!”

The Liberty Foundation calls their flights the “ultimate history lesson.” As World War II veterans pass away, the foundation says the aircraft carries on their legacy.

The “Madras Maiden” was built near the end of the war and became a research and development aircraft, then was sold to a civilian company to haul cargo.

Because of construction at Salt Lake International Airport, the public cannot tour the airplane without a ride ticket. Tickets cost $410 for Liberty Foundation members or $450 for non-members. The Liberty Foundation says it costs $5,000 per hour to operate their B-17. Each ticket includes about 30 minutes in the air. To purchase tickets, people can call (918) 340-0243 or visit LibertyFoundation.org.

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99-year-old WWII veteran takes to skies in B-17 once more