MADRAS, Ore. - People trickled into the Erickson Aircraft Collection at Madras Airport on Monday morning to snap a photo of the Madras Maiden, a B-17 World War II-era warplane that's been on a cross-country tour for most of the past year.
The bomber just got back from flying to more than 50 cities across the nation in nine months as part of the "Salute to Veterans" tour, put on by the Liberty Foundation.
The warplane was supposed to arrive Monday, but flew in Sunday because of weather conditions forecast for Central Oregon.
Jim Lawrence, the pilot of the B-17, told NewsChannel 21 that during the war, it would take a crew of 10 to fly and operate the plane.
Lawrence said the reaction they've received during the tour has been priceless.
"It's amazing to see the reaction of some of the people who don't realize what their father and grandfather did," he said. "And then when they fly on the airplane, then it's a real learning experience for them."
Lawrence said the Madras Airport was used as a training area for soldiers to train on the B-17 warplanes.
Madras resident Pat Abernathy saw Madras Maiden leave for her long journey but came back Monday to see her one more time.
"I'm very excited about it. We missed having her here at Madras, but we're so proud of her being able to go around the country. We're very proud of the Madras Maiden," Abernathy said.
Jim Martinelli works on the historical warplanes that are stationed at the Madras museum. He said it takes hours to restore the planes and keep them running.
The B-17 will go through a winter maintenance to keep it good flying shape.
"Just a really 100-point inspection of the entire airframe and engines to ensure that next year, when it goes out on tour, it's solid for the year," Martinelli said.
If you would like to check out the B-17 'Madras Maiden,' it will be at Erickson Aircraft Collection during the winter season.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.