HARTFORD, Conn. (WGGB) — It was one of the airplanes that helped liberate Europe in the 1940′s and even though thousands of B-17′s were produced during World War II, only about a dozen are still flight worthy.
This weekend one of them is offering flights out of Hartford and ABC40′s Chris Pisano was able to get onboard.
It’s 74 feet of polished silver and appropriately named ‘Aluminum Overcast.’
This restored B-17 Flying Fortress has just flown into Hartford-Brainard Airport for a weekend stay offering a chance not just to learn about history, but to live it.
“It is iconic and that in itself makes it a little difficult to fly the aircraft. I’ve got 35,000 (hours) of flying time but this one, I strap this one on I’m thinking don’t bend it. There’s not another one of these things. It’s not like I can get another one,” says Sam Bass, B-17 Flying Fortress pilot.
Once on board it’s like stepping back in time. The plane is outfitted just as it would have been at the height of the Second World War.
The Norden Bombsight in the nose, the waist guns on each side, the radio compartment with original equipment.
“It was the mainstay for the 8th Air Force in the Second World War. It flew out of England. Argument maybe it won the war for us,” adds Sam.
They were built to withstand punishment and keep-on flying
This baby’s still going strong after 68 years.
There’s certainly no mistaking this plane for a passenger liner. From the drafty conditions, to the tight quarters, and of course the noise…this plane was built for one purpose: bombing.
That’s something you don’t have to tell 92-year-old Warren Newhouse.
“It’s an excellent aircraft. It flies very easily. You get it trimmed up and you can just let it go,” notes Warren who’s a World War II Veteran.
The last time he stepped foot on a B-17 he was a 23-year-old pilot flying in enemy airspace. His smile hiding the fact he made 36 successful bombing missions over Germany.
“Yeah, I enjoyed it. (How did it feel?) Good, this time they weren’t shooting at me. (Made a big difference.) Yes!” says Warren.
The B-17 will be at the Hartford-Brainard Airport through Sunday and flights are offered from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Ground tours of the plane are scheduled from 2:00 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
For more information or to book a flight, call 1-800-359-6217 or visit www.B17.org