A Blast from the Past

Originally published 9/27/14 by Leon

A bit of history is touring the East Coast, and will be in Frederick MD Sunday, Oct 5. Crawl through it if you get a chance. Or better yet, take a flight. Tickets are on sale.

You may have an older relative who knows a lot about this airplane. It is the B-17, which was the workhorse of the Allied bombing campaign against Germany’s industrial strength 70 years ago. Only a dozen of the 13,726 made by Boeing are still in flying condition at this time. This one has been restored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, and is hangered in Oskosh, WI.

The Avionics are original and have not been upgraded to state of art. Although it was flown during the war in dicey conditions, this restored plane is flown only in good weather.

The B-17 had a crew of ten. The nose of the plane was home to the navigator and bombardier, with the pilot, copilot and engineer upstairs above them.  In the aft section were the radio operator, and four gun positions.  The radio operator and engineer had his own  gun for when enemy fighter planes came calling.

I had a friend who was the engineer on a plane which was shot down. He told me his story of being captured after parachuting, spending the rest of the war as a POW. It was interesting looking out of the plane from his perspective.

Accommodations are not spacious, and some agility is needed. Getting from the nose to the rear requires a stroll through the bomb bay on a catwalk about as wide as your shoes.

Experiencing this authentic nugget of history is an awesome experience, whether or not aviation is your passion.