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Photos: Flying Fortress takes Minn. WWII vets on the ride of a lifetime

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Rain comes down on a B-17G Flying Fortress, front, and a  B-25 Mitchell.
Rain comes down on a B-17G Flying Fortress, front, and a B-25 Mitchell at Holman Field at the St. Paul Downtown Airport Thursday. The B-17G has a gross weight of 65,500 pounds when fully loaded.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The B-17 Flying Fortress was developed by Boeing in the 1930s for the U.S. Army Air Corps, a precursor to the U.S. Air Force, but it became critical in strategic bombings against Nazi Germany during World War II. 

On the Fourth of July, the Minnesota chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association offered veterans free flights on a B-17 called the Aluminum Overcast: A 74-foot, 34,000-pound plane that has a 1,200-horsepower engine and a cruising speed of 170 mph.  

Andy Anderson, 95, a World War II Army veteran, was among the handful of veterans who took flight over St. Paul. He spent the war building runways for military planes — and Thursday, he flew in one for the first time.