Would you pay nearly 400-dollars for an airplane ride that lands right back where you boarded? The Experimental Aircraft Association is traveling the country this summer showcasing “Aluminum Overcast” -one of the few of the famous B-17 Flying Fortress Bombers still in flying condition. “Aluminum Overcast” arrived at the Ankeny Regional Airport Thursday morning to give members of the media a preview of this weekend’s show.
Pilot David Mann is one of 10 E-A-A pilots trained in flying the B-17. He says you’ll have to be seated for takeoff but when it’s in the air you can get up and go into the bombardier’s position, the navigator’s spot, go stand behind the pilots and look out the bomb bay, sit in the radio operator’s room or sit where the wait-gunners were. “The only place you can’t really go on the airplane is in the tail-gunner’s position.”
Mann says flying in the aircraft gives an appreciation for what flight crews went through in World War II. He thinks about being in that plane up at 30-thousand feet of altitude, where the temperature averages fifty below zero. “You’re in a thick wool suit, you have to plug in every socket to keep warm, you have to breathe (canned) oxygen, it’s fifty below zero and you’re being shot at!”
Mann still appreciates each flight he does because of the significance of the aircraft. When he first started he was nervous about flying a historical artifact. He says you think about that when you’re coming in on final approach, making sure the pilot gets it back on the ground safe.
The “Aluminum Overcast” was built in 1945, but this plane didn’t see active duty. It was donated to the EAA in 1981 and made its nation tour debut in 1994. They’ll be selling public flights from morning through midafternoon this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Related web sites:
Information on B-17 Flights