The Flying Fortress

In honor of Memorial Day here in the states, I am shining a spotlight on the B-17 Flying Fortress of World War II.

Over the years Pilot and I have visited museums and air shows with static displays of these magnificent airplanes. Several years ago, however, we had the amazingly cool experience of flying in a B-17 Flying Fortress.

Let me tell you, walking on the ground looking up at a B-17 is nothing like flying in one.

The B-17 Flying Fortress was an Army Air Corps heavy-duty bomber. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns and five thousand pounds of bombs, these four-engine aircraft flew strategic bombing missions over Europe. 13,000 B-17s were produced over the course of the war. Only 13 airworthy B-17s remain today.

The first B-17s saw combat in 1941 when the British Royal Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions. As World War II intensified, the bombers needed additional armament and armor.

In the Pacific, the planes earned a deadly reputation with the Japanese who dubbed them “four-engine fighters”. The Fortresses were also legendary for their ability to stay in the air after taking heavy artillery attacks. These planes sometimes limped back to their bases with large chunks of the fuselage shot off. If you saw movies like Memphis Belle, you get the idea of what these planes went through.

Sitting inside that bomber and flying over south Texas, gave me a greater appreciation for what the men who flew those birds dealt with in a very small way. While it was totally impressive to sit in the bombardier seat at the nose of the plane and watch the ground sail passed, I was not facing enemy fire. I flew in an uncluttered sky with no threat of artillery fire heading my way.

I truly cannot imagine what it was like to be in that plane during wartime. I especially cannot imagine what it was like to fight from the ball turret. My hat is off to all the brave men who flew their missions, and to the support crews who kept them flying.

So, I’m thinking…is there any spiritual application to all this B-17 business? Yep.

Just as the Flying Fortress was heavily armed, fought many a battle, was often beat up by the enemy, and limped back to base, life can be the same with us.

Every day we go out to battle the Enemy. We face flak and ack-ack from all sides. We take some costly hits, and end up with chunks taken out of us. Exhausted, we limp back home.

Our plane is patched up, and we live to fight another day. We get back inside our plane and go back at it until the day Christ returns, our enemy is thrown into darkness, and the Great War is over.

The only way we are able to win the battle is if God goes before us. God is not our co-pilot. He is the pilot in command. He is our Strength. He is our Shield. He is our Rock of Salvation. God alone is our Mighty Fortress.

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I look to the mountains;where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (GNT)

I wish you well.


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