Commemorative Air Force taking veterans around Tulsa in historic B-17 World War II plane

Posted at 5:14 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 11:58:50-04

JENKS, Okla. -- The "Texas Raiders" is a B-17 built during World War II.

The bomber plane and Jack Wells have a few things in common. Both joined the war in the mid-1940s, did not see combat, and enlisted with the navy.

"I enlisted initially in the naval flight training program, but I have a crooked arm that was broken at birth. I flunked the physical, so to speak. So I enlisted in the surface navy," Wells said.

Wells told 2 Works for You he always felt a connection with aviation and these historic airplanes.

"When one was shot down, we had ten guys. I remember one raid with 60 planes lost. I just almost cried," Wells said.

For almost 50 years "Texas Raiders" has existed to connect people to an important piece of history. For veterans, it's a tie to the legacy they've left behind.

"We've had a couple of them tear up just because of the emotions that it brings back. It's pretty powerful to see that," pilot John Bixby said.

Bixby flies the plane from city to city, giving free flights to World War II veterans. He'll be in Tulsa through Thursday and said this bomber holds a place in his heart as well.

"I first saw this airplane at an airshow when I was 12 years old and 35 years later I get to fly it. It's just a great experience being able to take it to various cities, show it around, have the vets come out to see it, take them up for a ride," Bixby said.

Flights are free for World War II vets, but prices start at $475 for anyone else who wants a ride on "Texas Raiders." The Commemorative Air Force will be offering flights through Thursday night. For more information visit 

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