Legendary Bird Keeps Flying After Being A Part of 65 Years of Aviation History
Every historic aircraft has a story to tell... and the 'Tico Belle" has seen 65 years of aviation history, which means that it has a LOT of stories in its background.... if only this airplane could talk. From the Normandy invasion to Cherbourg, to Arnhem, to Bastogne, to the Berlin Airlift and much more, this aircraft was there -- over 65 years ago. Today the "Tico Belle" is a flying extension of the Valiant Air Command museum with an important mission to educate the public about military history and what it meant to not only serve in World War II, but to have been present when so many sacrificed so much in the service of this Country.
The last decade, though, has not been kind to the 'Belle" after a 2001 landing accident pretty much put the poor bird down... which serious questions as to whether she would ever fly again. A ground loop that occurred during a go-around resulted in the right main gear's separation from the airplane, the collapse of the left main gear, separation of the tailwheel, and serious damage to the right wing tip -- which had impacted the runway with significant scarring on the underside of the wing, as well as some wrinkling observed in the empennage. If not for the efforts of the VAC, countless volunteers and donors, along with many months and years of tireless dedication, the 'Belle' would have been toast.
Today, you can experience the magic of the Tico Belle for yourself, as she pursues a more public mission... The VAC has a ride program where for $175 you not only get a ride in the local area, but if you are not already a member of the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, they'll give you an individual one year membership (Or $225 for a family membership). These Museum memberships entitle you to free admission to the museum and to the annual 3-day Warbird Airshow.
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