Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Flying on a B-17 World War II Bomber


Flying on a seventy year old airplane was never on my bucket list, but sometimes adventures come along that are life changing. This was one of them. I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

There is nothing comfortable about flying in one of these planes. There are sharp edges everywhere and you have to climb around things to get from one part of the plane to another. At least it wasn't sixty degrees below zero as it was when our boys flew bombing raids during WW II.

The Texas Raiders B-17 is an authentically restored B-17G and one of only nine (9) B-17 Flying Fortresses left flying at any given time. 

"The Texas Raiders was assigned to the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force in Houston, Texas. The GCW has continued to upgrade and restore the aircraft to its original combat configuration by adding the ball turret and top turret. All of the work was carried out by the volunteers of the CAF group in Houston. At the present time, the top turret is undergoing assembly prior to installation on the aircraft. This will complete the last major restoration item within the aircraft. When completed, TEXAS RAIDERS will be one of only a few B-17s which have operational top and ball turrets."

After the flight on Monday, I posted several pictures on Facebook, but here they are all together, along with my running commentary.

The opening scene of THE EMERALD BROOCH takes place inside the B-17 in May, 1944. I now know what it feels like to be up in one of the Flying Fortresses. Thank goodness no one was shooting at us!

5:37 Time to go
5:45 We’re getting ready to take off
5:46 Revving engines
5:46 Loud
5:46 Clear skies. Adrenaline pumping
5:47 We’re moving. This is too cool.
5:47 Made the turn. Ready.
5:48 We’re off
5:48 Wheels off the runway
5:48 We’re up
5:48 Smooth so far. Can walk around soon
5:49 Unbelievable!
5:50 Can get up now
5:59 WOW!!
6:00 From the cockpit – smooth ride. Windows are open. Can’t hear a thing
6:01 Wonderful
6:04 Hair blowing everywhere
6:06 Just as smooth as flight to NYC. Maybe smoother. Top of the plane wide open
6:08 Time to head back. I’m in my seat again.
6:09 The seat belt is impossible to figure out
6:09 Landing now
6:09 Wheels down
6:09 Screech
6:10 Safely back
6:11 That was a BLAST!!!!
6:18 Wow! What a trip

I'm standing on the far left


Pre-flight instructions
Passengers and crew

How to buckle your seat belt


The seat belt! 

I'm sitting in the waist gunner's seat

Taking off! 

The back of the plane

Toward the front of the plane
You cross that little bridge to get to the cockpit

I was as giddy as a kid at Christmas. 

I'm standing behind the co-pilot

My hair is blowing away, but who cares! 

As you can see from my expression,
I'm having the time of my life!

Yes, it is a bit windy with the windows open,
but man-o-man, was it fun!

Looking out over Richmond, VA

Flaps are down

Walking away. What an amazing adventure

If a sixty-five year old grandmother can do this, YOU can, too! Go for it! But be sure to braid your long hair before the flight. It took a bottle of condition to get out the tangles.

To book a flight to see what it looks like to ride on “Texas Raiders” click here.

May 29-31: Chris Crusta Memorial Airport, Abbeyville, LA

June 5, 6, 7: Heart of Texas Airshow, Waco, TX (featuring the USAF Thunderbirds)

June 20-21: Gill Aviation Open House (David Wayne Hooks airport, Spring, TX)

August 1: Gill Aviation Open House (David Wayne Hooks Airport, Spring, TX) 

This was the flight before mine. 
The clouds moved out before I went up. 


Faith said...

OMG, this is awesome! The view of the rear out the window and the ribbon of bullets really grabbed me, and your huge, sparkling smile.

Also really like your Instagram slide show. Fun idea.

Can't wait to read what you write about this experience, Kathy.



Unknown said...

Hmmm. I think my experience will be incorporated into Cav Cavanaugh's (B-17 pilot and hero in THE EMERALD BROOCH) experience. The one thing I'm sorry I didn't do was to sit in the pilot's seat. And I didn't take any videos during the ride. I'll just have to take another one!

Anonymous said...

I had the please of snagging a ride on "Texas Raiders" a few years ago. CAF Airshow at Brown Field in San Diego. AMAZING BIRD - best ride ever... and some fond memories. I spent the weekend camped at the base of the tower - shared a bottle of wine with a WWII Luftwaffe pilot, a Korea pilot and a Vietnam river rat while we listened to Mozart's "Night Music" after a hard days work at the Airshow. AWESOME...

Unknown said...

What a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing it! Texas Raiders is an amazing plane.