B-17 Navigator Gets Another Ride in Flying Fortress

Earlier this month, for the first time in 68 years, Don Nicholson climbed into a B-17 bomber for a seat in his old navigator’s perch and a half-hour flight from Chesterfield, Mo., to St. Louis. The flight in the Liberty Foundation’s Memphis Belle was part of a Boeing internal event, according to the company’s Oct. 15 release. Nicholson’s wife of 67 years, Betty June, accompanied him on the ride. The flight brought back memories for the 90-year-old former airman. “Anti-aircraft explosions would make your plane jump,” said Nicholson in recalling his 26 bombing missions during the war. On his last mission in September 1944, German anti-aircraft fire brought down his B-17 and he spent nearly a year as a prisoner of war. “It was definitely a worthy cause,” said Shawn Knight of Boeing Flight Operations who made Nicholson’s flight possible. Knight added, “It’s an honor just to give him a chance to ride in [the B-17] again.” (Includes Oct. 9 release from New for St. Louis website.)