There are only five B-17 World War II bombers that can still fly.
Two of them are in Madras right now for this weekend’s Airshow of the Cascades.
“It was the backbone of the army air corps during the bombing missions,” said pilot Fred Dewitt. “The B-24 and the B-17 were the backbone of the military.”
At 11 a.m. Monday, a 50,000-pound flying fortress named the Sentimental Journey landed at the Madras Municipal Airport.
DeWitt has been flying B-17’s for 28 years.
“This was a bomber,” DeWitt said. “The majority of these airplanes went to Europe and were based in England for bombing attacks on the mainland in Germany and other countries that they had taken over.”
Ten soldiers would man these combat-designed airplanes.
“The bombardier sat in the nose as you can see right there in that seat in the front, the navigator sat right behind him and then pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer,” DeWitt added. “There was the radio operator in the middle of the aircraft and then you had to two waist gunners in the mid-section and in the tail would be the tail gunner.”
Only 12,761 B-17’s were made, and only around 50 are left.
Only five still fly, one being the Sentimental Journey and the other Ye Olde Pub, which is part of the Erickson’s Aircraft Museum collection.
“It is a piece of History,” DeWitt said. “You are in one of the main aircrafts from world war 2. There are not very many left, so it is on a lot of wish lists of people who are old military lovers and keeping history alive and honoring those who did this back in the war.”
If you want to ride in a B-17, you’re in luck.
You can buy tickets to go up and ride Sentimental Journey Saturday at the Madras Air Show Festival.
The Festival is August 27th and 28th at the Madras Airport.