|Text Pink Lady: Laurent Cuvelier - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Laurent Cuvelier © sbap 2014|
Metalic structures (Laurent Cuvelier)
|Nose Art (Laurent Cuvelier)||Follow the instructions (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Russian way... (Serge Van Heertum)||German way... (Serge Van Heertum)|
|AJBS volunteers (Serge Van Heertum)||Security ensured by the Gendarmerie Nationale (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Breitling Jet Team in cartoon (Laurent Cuvelier)||(Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Back in the past (Serge Van Heertum)||(Serge Van Heertum)|
|(Serge Van Heertum)||(Serge Van Heertum)|
|Jean Pierre Lafille relaxing (Serge Van Heertum)||So serious (Serge Van Heertum)|
|(Serge Van Heertum)||(Serge Van Heertum)|
|Back in the 1940's with the "Manhattan Dolls" (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Pilots and their Pin-Up (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Great war (Laurent Cuvelier)||Modern combat pilot (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|First World War (Serge Van Heertum)||(Serge Van Heertum)|
|Second World War (Serge Van Heertum)||The leather mask pilot (Serge Van Heertum)|
|From mule to mustang... (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Interviews (Laurent Cuvelier)||Special guest podium (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Charm is in the air...Lydia... (Serge Van Heertum)||...and Danielle (Serge Van Heertum)|
|The past... (Serge Van Heertum)||...and the present (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Kiss and Ride...old version (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Pink Lady : Boeing B 17-G-85 VE 44-846, 69 years of age and still no wrinkles|
|The F- BGSP at Florennes in 1976 (Coll Bruno Ghils)|
To admire a warbird is often a particular moment. Knowing its history allows you to better relish this moment. To be entitled to go on board gives you the shivers when you know this noble lady counts 7 war missions of which six were really carried out.
You climb aboard through a side door and find a quite spacious volume regarding the forward section of the airplane. The rear and belly gunner had a more restricted space but outside the tactical zone the crew would find itself with the radio-operator. To gain access to the cockpit you have to pass by the bomb-bay marked out by two doors. Walking on a small ramp (15cm width at most) you had to hold on to ropes or to the bomb-holders present at that time. Delicate on the ground, what to say when in flight, equipped with their large leather flight gear. One understands better now the condition of this gear due to the smallness during combat. The navigator’s compartment sits just behind the pilots.
Sitting at the controls you have quite an unobstructed view on the nose and front of the plane as well as looking up and sideways. Looking sideways also gives you a view on the wing and the two engines.
Surprisingly an access door to the front of the plane (50 by 90 cm at most) is located at the horizontal tail locking mechanism and tail wheel section.
Once through this access panel and the small passage you will find yourself in the luxury suite. Nice volume and big glassy nose of Pink Lady. The sight must have been stunning during bomb raids but nightmarish during head-on attacks. The pilot, Michel Bezy, told me when filming a movie he wanted to shoot a head-on pass of a FW-190. It was impossible to do as when he saw the little dot on the horizon, the FW-190 was already pulling to vertical... duration of the pass : a couple of seconds...
Having had the opportunity to visit this Fortress in peacetime, all in exaltation for me, I can only bow for the courage of these men having fought in an airplane which could very rapidly turn into desolation.
62 years of service and 10.500 flight hours
Taken on by Boeing in January 1945, this B-17 left the United States in March 1945. In Europe she was assigned to the 511st Bomb Squadron, 351st Group as a spare aircraft without dedicated crew. All the bombing missions were flown in April 1945 targeting railway junctions, airports and fortifications.
From May 1945 till July 1946 a part of Western Europe was mapped flying from the UK, Belgium (Sint-Truiden) and finally Germany.
She received her first Christian name "Half-Pint" in Germany. Back in the USA and demobilized in 1954, "Half-Pint" was returned to service with the Institut Géographique National (IGN) clocking 4.000 flight hours. Registered F-BGSP she flew all over the world doing her job within the IGN.
In 1966, "Half-Pint" took part in the movie “La Grande Vadrouille” and the fly-past on July 14, 1984 just behind the Patrouille de France. 1987 saw the Fortress "Half-Pint" being handed over to an entity within the Association Jean-Baptiste Salis, still flying and counting 9.500 flight hours
The goal of this association is to keep this aircraft in flying conditions and present it during airshows. A hangar was especially build with the help of the local authorities and in 1989 the plane was re-baptised "Mother Country" for the making of a movie and received its final name during a last 'relooking'. The name 'Pink Lady' was taken from the pin-up painted on one of the pilot's flight jacket.
Since 2007, the aircraft, totalizing 10.500 flight hours, is presented in the hangar in a shape deserving a hat-off to all team members.
Many thanks to Mr Michel Bezy, pilot of the Pink Lady, for his hospitality, anecdotes and guided tour of this magnificent aircraft.
If you would like to know more on the history of this aircraft, you are invited to follow the next link, which will give you all the necessary information :
(Serge Van Heertum)
|Nose section (Laurent Cuvelier)||Engine, windshield and turett (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Under side and landing gear (Laurent Cuvelier)||Engine view from inside (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Rear guns and side view (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|The cockpit (Laurent Cuvelier)||(Laurent Cuvelier)|
|The place reserved to the bomber (Laurent Cuvelier)||View in the nose (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Bomber control panel (Laurent Cuvelier)||Clothing heating system (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Fuel consumption table (Laurent Cuvelier)|
|Take Off at Florennes in 1976 (Coll Bruno Ghils)||Also Florennes on static display (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Cambrai June 15th, 1985 as "Luky Lady" (Serge Van Heertum)||At Zoersel on September 4th, 1993 (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Reims air base on July 3rd, 2004 (Serge Van Heertum)||May 31st, 2008 at La Ferté Alais (Serge Van Heertum)|
Lady" stopped flying after the 2009 season...
Let's hope this Flying Fortress will fly again!
(Serge Van Heertum)
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