'What a ride' WWII vets get once-in-a-lifetime flight in B-17 - KMOV.com

'What a ride' WWII vets get once-in-a-lifetime flight in B-17

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Retired Air Force Brigadier General Ron Youngs was aboard the Madras Maiden Monday for the right of a lifetime. (Credit: KMOV) Retired Air Force Brigadier General Ron Youngs was aboard the Madras Maiden Monday for the right of a lifetime. (Credit: KMOV)

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- A couple of World War II veterans took a flight back in time Monday. Both boarded a B-17 bomber which was in town for the first-time and News 4's Venton Blandin was there to see the veterans' adrenaline rush,

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Ron Youngs was one of the men aboard the Madras Maiden and was taken back down memory lane almost immediately.

“Normally, I would crawl in the back and climb up in the right seat and start the pre-flight," he said with a smile.

Monday above the St. Louis skies, Youngs was only going to ride.

The airman spent a lot of time in the cockpit during WWII, but never stepped foot in a B-17.

"I know I am looking forward to it. I know I am thrilled about it,” he said before the flight. “I know I have not been able to sleep well at night."

His appreciation for the plane is shared by many.

John Eads, an aviation mechanic who keeps the Madras Maiden skyworthy, spends seven hours per week keeping the plane in shape.

"We keep an eye on her, keep the maintenance going and she is in pretty good shape," Eads said. “As a retired Navy guy, this keeps me busy. It gets me out to various states and I get to meet all of our veterans."

There were 12,732 B-17s made.

There are only about eight of them flying now. The Madras Maiden goes to about 48 cities and is maintained by volunteers like Eads.

“This airplane represents all of those men and women who put the airplane together, the men and women who flew it," he said.

Monday’s flight lasted about 15 minutes as the plane traveled across the St. Louis area. For Youngs, it was an experience a lifetime in the making.

“Oh, God. What a ride,” he said. “All during my young days, we watched B-17s in the movies and on camera. Never ever thought I would get in one.”

"It's really emotional,” added Young’s granddaughter Alison. “I know it is something he's wanted to do for years."

Don Russell was the other veteran on board with Youngs. 73 years after WWII, Russell said he got a view he never imagined he’d see.

"It was the best day,” he said. “It is just like my honor flight to Washington. Just wonderful."

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