A bit of aviation history is in the valley. The "Movie Memphis Belle" is a B-17 flying fortress. It's a sister to her namesake. The original Memphis Belle gained legendary status when her crew managed to complete all 25 missons in the skies over Germany despite severe battle damage.
Thousands of valley residents were treated to a look at the movie Memphis Belle as she criss-crossed over the valley. Nearly 13 thousand b-17's were built by the end of world war two. Only 13 are still flying today.
The plane is operated by the Liberty Foundation. The foundation's goal is to preserve this piece of aviation history for future generations. Fresno resident Rudy giannoni was a young waist gunner on a B-17 when he was shot down in 1944. Today he flew on the bomber he grew to love for the first time in nearly 70 years.
"It was just magnificent it was just tremendous , it brought back a lot of memories but they were all pleasant this time."
Rudy was shot down and taken prisoner of war during his 7th mission on a b-17.
"We did a good job of bombing them but just as soon as we released our bombs was when we got hit by the 88 millimeter shells from the ground."
Rudy turns 90 years old on April 18th.. and he can't imagine a better birthday present.
"And it was beautiful , couldnt ask for anything better."
Rudy wasn't the only one at today's flight with a special link to the B-17.
Karen Hanft's father was a young crew member on a B-17 when it was shot down over Cologne, Germany.
She was an infant who lost her father Richard, but when she lost her dad .. she gained a life long hero.
"I am so blessed to have him as a father he was such a wonderful man and hopefully i got some of his traits."
Richard Hanft was awarded the distinguished flying cross and the purple heart
Karen was inside the movie Memphis Belle for the first time last weekend.
and when she was .. she knew she wasn't alone.
"When i was inside of it the first day on Saturday I felt like my dad was really there smiling down at me, you know and he was so proud and of course I cried."
The Bomber will be back in Fresno this coming Sunday at Fresno-Yosemite Airport. She'll be flying every hour.
Tickets cost $450 for a half hour flight, with all proceeds going to plane maintenance. Tours of the Bomber are free to the public.
Click the related link for more information or to reserve your seat.