CONCORD, N.C. -- Tour a piece of living history in the air or on the ground this weekend at Concord Regional Airport.

The B-17 was the heavy bomber vital to winning World War II. Exactly 12,731 B-17s were built from 1935-1945. Over 4,500 were destroyed in combat.

B-17s had long-range capability, so missions took them to strike targets deep into enemy territory. Flight time was often over eight hours.

Without a fighter escort, B-17 crews had to rely on their own defensive capabilities to insure a successful mission. In the darkest days of the war, 60 B-17s and 600 men did not return from a single raid.

There are fewer than 12 historic B-17s still flying today. EAA, the Spirit of Aviation, will be doing ground and in-flight tours out of Concord Regional this weekend. Its own Flying Fortress, Aluminum Overcast, is a sight to behold. The Charlotte area is just one stop on the 15-city, 2010 Salute to Veterans Tour.

You can stand in the footsteps of the navigator, the waist gunner and the bombardier, observe the pilots as they command this 65,000-pound bomber and relive the legacy of the thousands who gave their lives flying bombing missions.

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