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Flight in a B17 Flying Fortress


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Spent the afternoon with the guys from the Collings Foundation and ticked off one of these "bucket" list items today by going for flight in a B17 Flying Fortress. What a truly amazing experience, vibration and noise as we started up and taxied was incredible but as soon as we were airborne and heading North along the California coast it go super smooth, just that beautiful droning of 4 radial engines. I think what amazed me the most was how much plane was needed for such a relatively small bomb bay and how cramped everything is. Gives you an entirely new perspective of what these aircrews must have gone through during the war, especially the poor guy who ended up in the ball turret (damn that's a small space!).

Anyway, the Collings guys are on trip around the US with a B17, B24 and a P51 Mustang, and if anyone wants to join them check out their schedule at http://www.collingsfoundation.org/cf_schedule-wof.htm (they're in the OC until Monday) and you won't meet a more dedicated team of aviation enthusiasts. Now just got to figure out how to get a ride in a Spitfire and my aviation bucket list will be complete!

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Paddle Faster, I hear Banjos!
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Wow! What a fantastic experience. An incredible aircraft, on my bucket list too, but I don't see how I'm ever going to experience it.

Believe I saw this one over PHX about this time last year.

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Wow! Very cool, ace pics :D

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Super fab. Great pictures.

Caught between a rock and a hard place in a catch 22 situation, So its 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. Your damned if you do, but your damned if you don't so shut your cock!!!!!!!!!!!

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Been in a few bombers on the ground (never in the air) - it does very much give you a totally new persepctive on "f**k me them young men had BALLS".

I'd be nervous to do it anyways without being chased by fighters and shot at with millions of small lead pellets !

What an amazing experience that must have been, superb pictures as well - esp the one from the top turret and chin position over the port.

Little known fact neither the chin or top turret could elevate to shoot an direct oncoming fighter - during the 1st daylight raids B17s used to fly in wedge formation not the later combat box formations where the blind spots could be covered.

Imagine sitting there in the navigators position with that happening !

Last I heard the only 2 seater spits are in the UK, one is a lady pilot who took over from her late husband training real RAF pilots to fly the real single seaters (post war of course) - it's totally do-able, although I am not sure whether the planes are privately owned or part of the IWM Duxford's collection.

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Modern legal requirements make a Spitfire flight next to impossible, these days.....

CAN I ARRANGE A FLIGHT IN A SPITFIRE?

There is only a handful of 2-seater Spitfires in the world, and just three of these are flying in the UK. In addition, to be able to offer trial lessons, any aircraft must have a public category licence, and the instructor too must be licensed to take paying passengers. Presently these two conditions are not met for any Spitfire in the UK. So, unfortunately, the chances of arranging a flight in a Spitfire are pretty slim. However it is possible to arrange solo displays for individuals; for more information see the Grace Spitfire website or Anthony Hodgson's PT462 website. The third 2-seat Spitfire is based at East Kirkby and owned by a private collector; it too is occasionally flown at displays.

This is the Grace Spitfire site:

http://www.ml407.co.uk/pages/

The aeroplane was rebuilt by Nick Grace, almost single handed, and flown by him for a few years before he tragically died in a car crash. His wife, Carolyn, took on the piloting duties and I believe their children are also qualified on the family aircraft!

The B-17 is an iconic aeroplane..the courage required to face the German fighters and flak, day after day and initially unescorted, cannot be underestimated....contrails screaming "Here we are!!" to the enemy... awe inspiring. Not so sure of the aircraft's concept, though... you have ten crewmembers in each aeroplane and, as has been mentioned, a very small bomb load. In fact, the B17's bomb load to Berlin was the same as the Mosquito....which had but two crew members and far greater survivability and much less cost per unit. However, the USAAF daylight raids were not just a method of inflicting damage on the ground, but a major part of a war of attrition designed to annihilate the Luftwaffe fighter force before D Day...the escorting Mustang fighters and the mass firepower of the B17 itself wreaked havoc with the German interceptors. In the event, D Day was pretty much unopposed by enemy air, which proves the strategy. Years ago I flew a Vickers Varsity to Berlin...flying over Germany in something closely related to a Wellington, in airspace which 30 years before would have been rather less safe, was thought provoking stuff.

Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been." - Albert Einstein

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awesome

Cliff

Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed. : Albert Einstein

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Very cool!!! I always admired the B17. I've seen "Fuddy Duddy" when it used to be based in Geneseo NY. Regretted I never came up with the fee (I think it was about $300) to go for a ride when they were being offered. I also saw it fly over a race at Watkins Glen and it was real impressive to see it reflecting the sun the way it is finished in polished aluminum. In recent years the movie reproduction plane of the "Memphis Belle" has been present at the annual airshow. Geneseo is less than an hour away and is worth taking in for anyone local.

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I've crawled through Collings' 17 and 24...BTW last I heard, their 24 is the only airworthy one in the world.

For you guys who want the ride, all you do is show up and buy the ride. Dunno what they're charging now, but when I saw them in the mid-'90s they were asking $300 for a flight, and they had to have something like ten people to do a flight (at the time they claimed it cost $3000/hour to operate the airplane). I was in university at the time and too broke to even think about it. a few years later my brother got a free ride though...he works in TV news and finagled his way into being 'field producer' when a crew went to cover a B17 appearance.

Edited by The Veg

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Guest Mutley00

You lucky lucky person. The FF is now on my bucket list as its impossible to fly in my iconic planes - the Lancaster & 2 Seater Spitfire.

Molemot - how do you reckon celebrities get to fly in them? Ewan McGregor recently flew in the 2 seater spit. Why can actors do it & not Joe Public.

My wife bought me a 'Dambuster Run' in a Helicopter for my 50th over Howden, Derwent & Ladybower, and whilst it was a great experience it would have been a tad better in a Lanc

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Very nice! It would be cool to fly in one.

I got to crawl through a B-25, a while ago, after it landed at the airport next door to my work place.

https://picasaweb.google.com/lotusse/B25#

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crawled through the passage to the nose gunner position

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Edited by Vulcan Grey

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Thanks guys, this was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and here are a few videos of the flight (if you've got the bandwidth view them in 720 HD) and check out the pilots feet on the rudders during takeoff!

Paddle Faster, I hear Banjos!
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Shame, there is one less of these aircraft around today, but the most important thing is all aboard got out OK.

The crash happened outside of the Chicago area and the name was the "Liberty Belle"

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full story with pics

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That's gut wrenching to see, and looks like they made a safe landing in the corn field before the fire got her.

Paddle Faster, I hear Banjos!
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Having looked at the story and the photos, that wasn't a crash at all....a perfect landing, the beast is standing proudly on her wheels, sadly with the fire having taken hold. The rest of the sequence is tragic as she burns out...awful....but well done the pilot(s) for a perfectly executed forced landing. I don't know what fire extinguishing systems this particular aircraft had, but it must have been hearbreaking to have to watch her go from slightly singed to total loss....no casualties, though, thankfully.

Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been." - Albert Einstein

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The original pictures that were posted did not show the plane with the landing gear intact and fire just starting (leading me to think the gear collapsed on landing, but I see now, not so). No doubt parts will be salvaged and sold off as spares to the remaining B-17s that are still flying. Shame the fire couldn't be controlled sooner.

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