Survivor of three Nazi concentration camps relives history on B-17 flight at Truax Field
MADISON, Wis. — The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress carries a remarkable history filled with sacrifice and dangerous missions.
George Levy Mueller, a survivor of three concentration camps, knows just how dangerous their missions were.
“I’ve been talking about B17s for years,” Mueller said.
When Mueller was 13 years old, he and his sister were imprisoned in a concentration camp.
“She was five years younger, and we were there by ourselves. Every day that I was there, B-17s and other planes, but mostly B-17s, in groups by the British, and hundreds of them, altogether, hundreds every day. And we could tell what direction they were going in, what city they were going to bomb,” he said.
Each day, as these planes bombed more cities around him, Mueller watched the planes fill the sky from the ground.
“It turned out to be something bigger than in my head. It got to the point where I could actually recognize a B-17. If I hear one, I could tell it was a B-17,” he said.
Mueller said seeing these planes fly overhead in masses meant there was a chance he might survive.
This 1945 B-17 bomber plane never saw any action in WW2 but it is the exact model of the planes that bombed concentration camps. One man who survived three camps got to fly on this today and relived the moment he saw these planes flying over. #News3Now pic.twitter.com/Oi8WSpCAVB
— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) July 18, 2019
“I knew that the war was going to be over soon if I could keep on being alive, which I was,” Mueller said. “I was then saved.”
For the first time, Mueller was able to fly in one of the same type of planes that saved his life.
The planes were first manufactured in the 1930s and more than 12,000 were made. The fast, high-flying bomber dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft during World War II. Today, only a handful are still flying. Mueller said being able to fly in one of them was “a dream come true.”
The planes he once described as “angels from the sky,” turned out to be just as amazing as he thought they were.
The planes can hold thousands of pounds in weight, and during World War II, the planes were shot at for up to eight hours at a time.
Mueller said he “would like to go on the next one” after his experience at Truax Field Thursday.
Mueller’s experience was part of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17 tour. If you would like to experience this piece of history, flights will be open to the public throughout the weekend. To register for a spot, click here.
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