A friend in the antiques business says books about World War II are hot commodities right now. Several customers make a beeline for the military shelves the second they enter her shop.
Reading is a wonderful way to “experience” another time and place.
So is seeing for yourself and from Aug. 23-25, you will have a chance to do just that.
The local Hagerstown (Indiana) Chapter 373 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will bring a B-17 bomber to Richmond Municipal Airport. There will be ground tours of the plane and, weather permitting, a chance to take flight in “Aluminum Overcast,” the name of one of the few remaining airworthy B-17s in the world.
Chapter member Hank Morrissey serves on the flight crew when the plane visits other airports, which it does every weekend during flying season (May-October). The B-17 is owned by the national EAA and based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Morrissey’s eyes light up as he talks about the importance of giving people the chance to see and ride in the bomber.
“It’s a way to honor and recognize the people who served in World War II,” he said. “We want people to understand the history of the airplane and what the veterans accomplished.”
Advance tickets are $409 for EAA members and $449 for non-members. Purchases during the visit are $435 for members and $475 for non-members. The ground tours are $10 for individuals or $20 for families. Children under 8 are free with a paying adult. Veterans and active military also may take the tour at no charge.
The money is for a good cause – maintenance and operations costs for the B-17.
“Thankfully, the EAA has saved some of these planes,” said Judy Birchler of Indianapolis, a pilot and founder of Ladies Love Taildraggers, during a recent visit to Richmond. “It’s a piece of history the world will never see again.”
Morrissey watches the faces of folks who board the bomber.
“Most people are just kind of amazed,” he said. “They had no idea what the crew had to do.”
This year, for the first time, Chapter 373 will host a B-17 Hangar Dance from 6-9 Aug. 24. There will be a buffet dinner, a raffle for Sunday bomber flights, and entertainment by the Ladies for Liberty, an Andrews Sisters-type trio. Participants are urged to come in military or 1940s-themed attire.
“It’s a 1940s prom for a bunch of aviation dorks,” said Mike Davis, president of Chapter 373.
Tickets are $30 and proceeds will benefit the chapter’s youth aviation activities.
One of the primary purposes of EAA, Davis said, is to promote an interest in flying among young people. That includes taking kids for free flights – not in the B-17, but in members’ private planes.
“If they want to get up in the air, they can,” said Davis.
Chapter member Chris Feaster says he wishes the EAA’s Young Eagles programs had been available when he was 10 or 11. He and his wife, Jennifer, recently bought their first plane, which he was happy to show to a rather intimidated youngster.
The little girl had announced, “I LOVE aer-o-planes” on her arrival, but didn’t want to accept Jennifer’s invitation to sit in the Feasters’ plane. I think she was afraid it would take off with her in it!
Take your kids for the B-17 tour.
But be forewarned.
Aviation can be addictive!
B-17 flights Aug. 23-25 can be booked at www.B17.org or (800) 359-6217.
Dance tickets and other information at www.facebook.com/EAA373.
By Louise Ronald