EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. – (June 16, 2010) – At least
four of the remaining airworthy Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" aircraft
will be on hand to commemorate the legendary World War II bomber’s 75th
anniversary during EAA AirVenture 2010. "The World’s Greatest Aviation
Celebration" will be held July 26-August 1 at Wittman Regional Airport
Only about a dozen of the iconic aircraft remain airworthy
anywhere in the world, including EAA’s "Aluminum Overcast" that brings
aviation history to the public through national tours. Already confirmed
to join it at AirVenture for the week-long "Salute to Veterans" is
"Texas Raiders," "Thunderbird," and "Yankee Lady" to honor the exact
75th-anniversary date of the B-17’s first flight – July 28, 1935.
Numerous events throughout the week will celebrate the B-17’s legacy in
"These magnificent warbirds gathering in one place will mark
this special occasion in a memorable way," said Tom Poberezny, EAA
chairman/president and AirVenture chairman. "As we celebrate the B-17’s
75th anniversary, we honor these living links with aviation’s past and a
reminder of the sacrifices of the young men who flew them."
"Texas Raiders," scheduled to arrive Tuesday, July 27 and depart
Sunday, August 1, recently emerged from an intensive eight-year
restoration at Houston’s Hobby Airport. The warbird, which is maintained
and flown by the Commemorative Air Force’s Gulf Coast Wing, was one of
the last B-17s built by Douglas and was delivered to the U.S. Army Air
Forces on July 12, 1945.
"Thunderbird," scheduled to arrive Sunday, July 25 and depart
Monday, August 2, flew 116 missions with the 303rd Bomb Group in World
War II. The warbird, which is housed at the Lonestar Flight Museum in
Galveston, Texas, will be featured at the "Warbirds in Review" program
on Wednesday, July 28, at 1 p.m.
"Yankee Lady," scheduled to arrive Thursday, July 29 and depart
Sunday, August 1, was built by Lockhead (Vega) and delivered on to the
U.S. Army Air Forces on July 16, 1945. The following year, the warbird
was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard until its military retirement on
May 11, 1959. "Yankee Lady," owned by Yankee Air Force and housed at
Yankee Air Museum in Belleville, Mich., was featured in the movie "Tora,
Tora, Tora" in 1969.
The B-17’s 75th anniversary will be celebrated through several
events coinciding with the week-long "Salute to Veterans" festivities
honoring America’s veterans, including a planned "Missing Man" formation
by four B-17s.
At Theater in the Woods on Wednesday, July 28 at 8 p.m., retired
U.S. Army Air Forces Col. Harold "Hal" Weekley (EAA #169329/Warbirds
#2651) and former volunteer pilot for "Aluminum Overcast," will recount
his experiences flying on bombing missions over Germany. Weekley, one of
the last B-17 aircraft commanders from World War II still flying, made
his last B-17 flight at EAA AirVenture 2001, a week after his 80th
The B-17, which first saw combat in 1941 when the British Royal
Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions, was
the first Boeing military aircraft with a flight deck instead of an open
cockpit, and was armed with bombs and five .30-caliber machine guns
mounted in clear "blisters."
Boeing plants built a total of 6,981 B-17s in various models,
and another 5,745 were built under a nationwide collaborative effort by
Douglas and Lockheed (Vega). Most B-17s were scrapped at the end of
World War II. Some of the last Flying Fortresses met their end as target
drones in the 1960s – destroyed by Boeing-built military missiles. EAA’s
"Aluminum Overcast," fortunately, was saved from the scrap heap when it
was originally purchased as surplus for $750 in the mid-1940s.
EAA AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH is The World’s Greatest Aviation
Celebration and EAA’s yearly membership convention. Additional EAA
AirVenture information, including advance ticket and camping purchase,
is available online at www.airventure.org. EAA members receive lowest
prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs,
call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit www.eaa.org. Immediate
news is available at http://twitter.com/EAAupdate.