Reflecting on a flight in an "Old Tin Can"...
I was going through some of my old journals tonight and came across an entry I made after my Dad and I took my Grandmother up in a B-17 Flying Fortress (Bomber from World War II).
Preface to the following story:
The story you are about to read begins in 1941 with a young man serving his country in the Army Air Corp. That young man was my grandfather. He served as a mechanic during World War II. The B-17 Flying Fortress was one of the many planes he maintained. I had the privilege of hearing his stories and learning about the memorabilia he kept from the war. Those cherished memories have driven me to learn more about World War II and the aircraft he maintained.
Fast forward to the Summer of 2012...
My dad and I saw in the paper that the Yankee Air Museum brought in their B-17, "Yankee Lady", to the Grand Opening of the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton. The day after the grand opening we went over early morning so I could take pictures of the B-17. We crawled all over the plane and I was able to get all the pictures I wanted without interruption. A collection of which can be seen below...
After I was done, we went over to learn about the flight experiences the Yankee Air Museum was offering. After a little bit of thinking, as well as some careful planning, we made up our minds that we were going to surprise a special lady with a ride. We headed back over to the table and signed up for an afternoon flight. Dad and I then headed back to the cottage to surprise Grandma with a "mystery trip". Needless to say, she was in shock and broke down in tears of joy.
Once we completed the pre-flight briefing, we helped Grandma up the few stairs, around the belly gunner's turret to "radio room" in the center of the plane just aft of the bomb bay.
There is nothing to compare the feeling you get when you hear the four old radial cylinder engines fire up. There is one thing which tops that feeling... That would be seeing the look of joy on your grandma's face when she gets to experience a flight in the type of plane her husband worked on 71 years ago.
The entire flight was super smooth. The only way we knew we had taken off was looking out the window of the aircraft. The take off and landing were smoother than what you feel in the modern planes.
Once we were airborne, they allowed us to move througout the plane. While Dad and Grandma remained in the radio room, I made my way up into the nose of the plane and back into the tail section. In the nose, it was noisier than I expected due to being in front of the engines with air rushing around the plane.
You get a totally different perspective of Lake Erie and the Islands when you are up at altitude. It was cool seeing Cedar Point and the Lafarge quarries from the air. You don't really understand how landlocked Cedar Point is until you see it with a birds eye view.
The video below you will see a birds eye view of Cedar Point and the marina from the tail section of the plane.
This was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. There is nothing that can be said to describe the feeling of seeing the inside of an old war bird, let alone taking a ride in one. I get chills still thinking back about this day. This will be one of those special moments I will never forget for as long as I live.