2012 B-17 Flight

This May three of our Model A Club members, John Zuffi, Walter Caplan, and Barry Kinney had the opportunity to take a ride in a vintage B-17 at the Hayward Air Show. Mike Cunneen posted the invitation at the Monte Cristo Club and made reservations for anyone wishing to take the flight.

Every flight the plane makes is in honor of the forty-six thousand airmen who lost their lives in these planes during World War ll. Certainly, after the flight you have a much greater appreciation for those men who flew these planes to protect our freedom almost seventy years ago.

To fly you must buy a ticket, receive a boarding pass and follow any direct order given by the Crew Chief. There are a few other rules that are self explanatory: Don’t touch the control cables, don’t smoke or drink, don’t sit on the ammo boxes, and buckle-up for take off and landing.

After a short discussion by the Crew Chief detailing the emergency exits (there are seven) and the procedure should one or more of the four 9-cylinder Curtis Wright engines fail, we sailed into the wild blue yonder.

Following take off, the plane was ours. We moved freely into the nose and looked down through the bomb site, checked out the radio room, the waist, belly, top turret guns. The only location that was not accessible was the tail gun. The twelve foot long tunnel to the gun was too narrow for the average size person to negotiate. It should be noted that this plane has been restored to original condition complete with bombs, guns and ammo, bomb site, radio, etc.

We flew out over Oakland. Our flight passed over Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Alameda and landed where the flight originated at the Hayward Airport. The views of San Francisco, the bridges, and the bay were spectacular.

The flight lasted for about an hour. This beautiful old plane soared slowly and smoothly over the bay. The engines roared. The Crew Chief had ear plugs for those who needed them. None of us did. Hearing the engines was part of the experience.

This plane is a window into history. You can’t help thinking about the men who flew and died in them. Hopefully this aircraft will continue to fly for many years to come. If you have the opportunity to fly in this plane, do. You won’t regret it.

For more information go to www.b17.org.

Photos by Barry Kinney