Saturday, April 28, 2007

Two WWII Era B-17 Bombers in Bay Area For Air Tours

A piece of living history is in Hayward this weekend, giving residents the opportunity to feel what it was like to fly in a World War II heavy bomber.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" arrived in Hayward yesterday and will be at the airport until tomorrow. The plane is owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association and tours the nation every year. For around $425, you can take a 30-minute ride aboard the B-17 and get a feel of what it must have been like flying a bombing mission over Nazi Germany. If you don't have the money for the flight, you can take a ground tour for $6 per person or $10 per family.

After tomorrow, "Aluminum Overcast" will be in Concord from May 1-2 and Napa from May 8-9. Here's a taste of what a flight in the plane is like, from YouTube.

Another B-17, the Commemorative Air Force's "Sentimental Journey" is in Half Moon Bay tomorrow also giving 30 minute flights to the public for around $425.

Only six B-17s are actively flying today out of almost 17,000 produced during the World War II years. Seeing these planes is a reminder of another generation that went to war and the tools that help win that war. If you have the chance to fly or even tour either plane on the ground, I highly recommend it. In 1990, I had the chance to fly aboard the CAF's other B-17, "Texas Raiders" (currently under major maintenance) when I lived in Harlingen, TX and attended their World War II Air Power Demonstrations almost every year before they moved to Midland, TX. It is an airplane ride like no other as well as a once in a lifetime experience you will never forget.

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