WWII veteran gets special flight

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - World War Two veteran and prisoner of war Paul Sears tells his story often.

"I was 18, just barely one month beyond 19 when we were shot down," Sears described.

It's been seventy years since Sears sat in the back of a Flying Fortress, but those memories as a tail gunner are still just as vivid.

"We were able to fly about 110 miles away from the target before we were shot down," Sears said.

Mr. Sears survived being a POW and hasn't flown in a Flying Fortress since that day in 1943. That changed this week.

"You don't see these big birds very often," Sears said as he watched a B-17 taxi to the Aviation Museum of Kentucky after landing at Blue Grass Airport..

The Commemorative Air Force brought their B-17, Texas Raiders to the Aviation Museum of Kentucky for tours and rides.

"I'm Paul Sears. It's going to be a thrill to ride in your plane. It's been 70 years since I flew in one," Sears said as he shook hands with the bomber's pilot.

The CAF flies these warbirds to keep history alive, but this flight will be quite a bit different than those missions to Europe all those years ago.

"We were usually flying about 25,000 feet. The temperature was usually 40 to 50 below zero. Flying under a little better circumstances this time!" Sears said.

For about a half-hour, this modern-day B-17 crew flew Mr. Sears across Central Kentucky as he looked on.

"Oh it brings back a lot of memories," Sears said.

His old spot in the tail is closed off now, but that's OK with him.

"I'd have a harder time getting back in the tail now," he said.

He's content to enjoy one more ride in a 17 just a little closer to home.

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