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The Mighty Eighth AIR FORCE MUSEUM

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Activated in 1942 in Savannah, GA the Eighth Air Force was a critical strike element in World War II and remains an active force today. In 1983 Major General Lewis E. Lyle, USAF a B-17 bomber pilot and veteran of over 70 combat missions during World War II, and other veterans began planning a museum to honor the men and women who helped defeat Nazi aggression by serving in or supporting the greatest air armada the world had ever seen – the Eighth Air Force. On May 16, 1996, the vision became a reality with the dedication of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum.

The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum is one of the word’s most powerful Museum experiences as it honors the Mighty Eighth’s proud legacy by preserving the stories of courage, character and patriotism displayed by the men and women of the Eighth Air Force from World War II to present. The Museum continues to treasure and teach these values for all generations. Its newest acquisition on display showcases the Museum’s dedication to preserving the Mighty Eighth’s legacy as it is now the home to its very own World War II Warbird.

The official arrival of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum’s B-17 Flying Fortress was on January 14, 2009. The B-17G comes to the Museum from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC after a decade-long search for this rare heavy bomber. The aircraft, alongside the B-24 Liberator, was flown on combat missions to German targets from 1942 to 1945. The B-17 Flying Fortress was designed in 1936 and was one of the largest combat aircraft flown by the Eighth Air Force during World War II. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum will utilize this original airplane in their educational programs and in the Museum’s mission to preserve and present the legacy of the courageous airmen and women who served in the 8th Air Force. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum is restoring its B-17 in honor of the B-17 named “City of Savannah” on December 3, 1944. The aircraft was the 5000th airplane processed through Hunter Army Air Field at Savannah, GA during World War II. It was christened prior to its take-off to England to fly combat missions with the 8th Air Force. This B-17 Flying Fortress is undergoing a complete restoration and is on display now inside the Museum’s Combat gallery. Phase 1 of the Restoration Project is near completion. Restoration crew members have removed preservative coatings from the exterior of the aircraft as well as polished the exterior of the aircraft. Recently the restoration project crew members have shifted their focus to the interior of the B-17. Crew members moved inside for anti-corrosion preparation and removed layers of well aged paint. The fuselage will be freshly painted in September 2010. Once the fuselage is painted the restoration crews will begin working on the planes combat profile. The “City of Savannah” will be equipped internally with all of the appropriate items as it would have when it flew combat missions during World War II. Crews will be installing wood flooring, markings, the nose art, armament, turrets, and the cockpit. These are just a few of the projects that will be involved in the next phase of restoring the “City of Savannah”.

At the Mighty Eighth each exhibit becomes a compelling and powerful example of sacrifice, courage and patriotism. Among the exhibits are: Prelude to War, Battle of Britain, From Savannah to the UK, the Honoring the Eighth Gallery, Second Air Division, Tuskegee Airmen, Fly Girls, Roll of Honor, Hall of Valor, and the Jet Age Gallery. The Downed Airmen Exhibit Gallery features what it would be like for a U.S. Airman who was shot down over enemy territory. The Colonial Group Inc., Art Gallery displays priceless aviation art from the world’s leading artists.

Additional features of the Museum include its Chapel, Memorial Gardens and Research Center. The Chapel of Fallen Eagles is designed to be a replica a 16th century chapel; it presides over the Museum’s Memorial Gardens. The Research Center contains archival manuscripts, photographic collections, artifact collections and houses a 9,000 volume library.

The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum is located just minutes from Savannah via I-95/exit 102. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum is open seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm except for New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Ticket prices are $6 for children 6-12 years old (children under 6 are admitted free); $10 for adults; $9 for senior citizens, AARP, AAA; and discounted group tour rates and packages are available. The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum offers a special reduced admission rate of $6 for all active duty military personnel and $9 for all retired Military Service Members. For more information contact (912) 748-8888 or visit www.mightyeighth.org.

September/October 2010 Aviators Hot Line WARBIRDS

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