Thursday, 3 July 2008
Elite Ayrshire Business Circle marks Liberty Belle’s visit to Prestwick
By: Murdoch MacDonald
Ayrshire, Scotland, 3 July 2008--THE Liberty Belle B-17 Flying Fortress roared out of the clouds and in a spectacular manoeuvre turned on its side in salute and at low altitude swept imperiously across the tarmac of Glasgow Prestwick Airport before landing safely outside the terminal building of private jet charter and aircraft handling company Ocean Sky.
[Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks steps down onto the tarmac at Glasgow Prestwick Airport to be met by South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan and deputy leader Margaret Toner. Behind, in the fluorescent jacket, is Ocean Sky managing director Eddie Allison. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO VIEW / DOWNLOAD FULL-SIZE VERSION.]
The veteran American bomber aircraft made an overnight stop in Ayrshire as part of its 7,800 mile European Tour from its home in Georgia, USA in honour of all veterans of World War II. Piloted by owner Don Brooks, the Liberty Belle will proceed to RAF Duxford in England, arriving tomorrow, 4 July and American Independence Day.
The aircraft played a key role in the fight against Nazi Germany. It has had millions of dollars worth of restoration work performed over the last 20 years, and is one of the last B-17s still flying.
[Welcoming Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks to Ayrshire. Left to right: John Scott, MSP for Ayr; South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan; Professor Dugald Cameron; Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks; South Ayrshire Council deputy leader Margaret Toner: and Elite Ayrshire Business Circle managing director Murdoch MacDonald.]
To mark the occasion of the Liberty Belle’s visit to Ayrshire, members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle presented the crew with two prints depicting famous aircraft associated with Scottish aviation history, autographed by the artist Professor Dugald Cameron.
Elite Ayrshire Business Circle managing director Murdoch MacDonald said: “I would like to thank Don Brooks and his crew for the professional and unflappably amiable way in which they dealt with the media and the welcoming crowds. This cannot have been easy after what must have been a long, cold and arduous journey.”
John Scott, MSP for Ayr, South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan and deputy leader Margaret Toner were at the airport to greet Don Brooks and the Liberty Belle crew.
[Pictured: John Scott, MSP for Ayr (left) and South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan (centre) greet Liberty Belle owner and pilot Don Brooks after touch-down at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.]
John Scott MSP said: “This was a tremendous occasion, ably organised by Ocean Sky. It was an exciting evening for all of us privileged to be at Glasgow Prestwick Airport. The visit of the Liberty Belle brought back memories of a bygone era, and reminded us of the very special relationship that existed between Great Britain and the United States of America during the Second World War, and which still flourishes today. Seeing the Flying Fortress return to Prestwick was a fitting tribute to the bravery and commitment of the soldiers, sailors and airmen of both our two countries during conflicts in the last century, and still evident in foreign wars today.”
[Pictured: Don Brooks with the Liberty Belle at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.]
South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan said: “It was an honour and a privilege to be included in the visit of the Liberty Belle, and it was thrilling to actually board the plane and see exactly the conditions the pilot and crew had to work under.
“Although from the outside the plane looks enormous, due to the four large engines and a huge wingspan, the inside told a very different story. It is long and skinny and reminds you of a cigar tube. The fuselage of the plane has no cladding to keep out the cold as in modern planes, and it must have been freezing. I understand the pilots wore ‘electric clothing’ that could be plugged in, to keep them warm!
“Congratulations go to Eddie Allison of Ocean Sky for organising the visit to honour all veterans of the second world war. People need to be reminded what our military personnel fought for, particularly in this day and age when we have troops based in war-torn countries.
“The choice of Prestwick to land the Liberty Belle was truly fitting, due to strong connection with the McIntyres and the Twin Pioneer. South Ayrshire Council really appreciated the publicity created by this wonderful old lady landing in Prestwick, and congratulations are extended to all who made this possible - and particularly to the crew, who were delightful.”
[Pictured: the Liberty Belle at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.]
South Ayrshire Council deputy leader Margaret Toner added: "It was a great thrill for the Provost and I to sit in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit, especially as this historic B17 plane had just flown all the way from Iceland. It gives one a taste of what it must have been like for the air crew during the Second World War. The visit by Liberty Belle was a wonderful reminder of the part Prestwick and its airport played in the wartime struggles, and the heroism of the airmen who flew these planes."
Ocean Sky managing director Eddie Allison said: “Ocean Sky were tipped off that the Liberty Belle was planning a European trip several weeks ago. At that time they had planned to stop at another airfield, so we invited them to consider Prestwick. They agreed, and the result was this historic visit. It is extremely rare to see a B-17, and Ocean Sky were delighted to have hosted the visit.”
Aviation historian Professor Dugald Cameron added: “Boeing B-17s were a very common sight at Prestwick during and after the Second World War, both in US Army Air Force / USAF and Royal Air Force (Coastal Command) service.
“Many were serviced by Scottish Aviation Ltd at Prestwick, which later became British Aerospace, and then BAE SYSTEMS. In April 2006, the BAE SYSTEMS business unit was taken over by Spirit Aerosystems of Wichita, Kansas, USA.
“A few BA-17s could still be seen in the skies over Ayrshire in the early 1950s on search and rescue duties by the USAF.”
Together with Roderick Galbraith and Douglas Thomson, Professor Dugald Cameron is the co-author of the book “From Pilcher to the Planets” - an overview of Glasgow and the West of Scotland’s contribution to aviation as seen against the history of flight and a view of the art of engineering. Published by the University of Glasgow (2003).
A copy of Professor Cameron's book was presented to the crew of the Liberty Belle, along with the two aviation prints.
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Elite Ayrshire Business Circle at private jet company Ocean Sky
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