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Oshkosh AirVenture Highlight: Boeing B-17

Wandering through Warbird Alley at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, it’s hard to imagine exactly what the young heroes who operated these legendary aircraft endured in wartime so long ago. We’re able to appreciate the beauty of these machines, but typically do not get a chance to experience the thrill of being airborne in one. Standing on the Oshkosh grounds and hearing these aircraft start up and taxi out then takeoff and perform is more than enough considering just how much time and money is required to keep them flying. But to put yourself in the shoes of a pilot or crew member in a past era is something nearly impossible to replicate.

B-17 waist gunner position

The waist gunner position of the B-17 “Aluminum Overcast”

The Experimental Aircraft Association can offer a glimpse of what it would have been like with 9 fellow crew members, headed off across the English Channel – more than 70 years ago. EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast, a staple at Oshkosh for years, gives enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of what is was like to be in one of America’s most iconic aircraft so long ago. It’s almost a surreal experience to sit in the makeshift seat for the smoky engine start, slow bumpy taxi and rumbling takeoff. Once airborne, you can walk about the cabin, past the waist gunners positions, over the ball turret, through the radio operator room, bomb bay, into the cockpit, and finally down into the nose. Perched in the bombardier’s position in the nose, you get an incredible view of the earth below, demonstrating just how practical this aircraft was for its specific mission.

B-17 Aluminum Overcast bombardier's seat

View from the B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” bombardier’s seat in the nose.

Apart from the custom passenger seats to accommodate customers, Aluminum Overcast appears to be relatively stock inside and out. With replica guns and period authentic radio equipment, it’s like stepping back in time. However the instrument panel is a bit more contemporary, and bears a resemblance to much more modern aircraft. It features two Garmin 430 navigators, and recently became ADS-B compliant with the addition of our GTX 345 all-in-one ADS-B transponder.

B-17 Cockpit

Cockpit view of “Aluminum Overcast” featuring dual Garmin 430’s and the GTX 345 all-in-one ADS-B transponder.

Aluminum Overcast tours throughout the year providing flight experiences at destinations all over the United States. To learn more, visit their website and book your seat for the ride of a lifetime!

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