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Propwash

B-17 in town!

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Had an amazing experience yesterday on what I thought was going to be an uneventful Sunday.   Decided to dash on over to the local Wally Mart for a few odds and ends.   To avoid city traffic, I took a back road the runs past the Caldwell, Idaho, Municipal Airport.  Approaching the airport, I couldn't believe my eyes.  Parked in front of the operations building was a B-17 in WW II camouflage.  I had to stop for a look. 

 

Only a few people were there, including one of the crew, who had set up a info booth. Realizing this was I rare opportunity, I headed for the aircraft --which was named "Ye Olde Pub"  Previously, I had only seen B-17s at crowded airshows. I chatted with the crewman for a while.  I asked him what model the aircraft was.  He said it was a G which had been backdated to an F.  I asked if I could have a look inside, and he said yes.   A rare opportunity.  At the aforementioned airshows, an interior tour had always required a long wait in the hot sun, which I declined.

 

I took a number of pictures of the exterior and then went inside.  I had heard that the interior of a B-17 was cramped, but until actually seeing it first-hand, I never realized just how cramped it really was.  I'm not a big guy, but to me  it seemed almost claustrophobic.  I could barely squeeze past the upright in the bomb bay.  I can only imagine what it must have been like wearing a bulky flight suit.    Bailing out, with the aircraft going down in a spin, would have been a very dicey proposition.  

 

I continued taking pictures of the interior.   Then returned to reality and my shopping expedition. 

 

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought was did that really happen, or was it a dream?  But I have the pictures to prove it.  I'll try to post them later today, once I get the hang of Photobucket. 

 

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Which airframe was it?

 

Years ago, I was working the flight line at Battle Creek, MI.  It was about 8pm on a sultry, lazy weekday night.  Aside from a few Chickenhawks buzzing around, the field was dead.  I was standing on top of my company's fuel farm tank when I started to feel the air vibrate.  I didn't hear anything, but just felt it.  

 

I stood up and looked up the runway towards the approach end of runway 23 (now 23R) and was floored to see four massive radials and a slick aluminum fuse rapidly closing, just above the runway.  My heart nearly stopped as she drew closer.  The very Earth itself began vibrating and the air shook my senses.  

 

In a flash, she roared past me, still gaping in awe, just a few feet from the runway, her engines howling at full power.  As she passed she rolled into a climbing right turn and vanished into the evening sky.  

 

My coworkers were suitably unimpressed, but I could barely stammer a word.  The living history that had just roared through my night was a bit more than this WWII geek could handle.  Wish I'd had a camera, but then I may have missed out on the experience.

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They are indeed cramped quarters. Having been onboard the Sally B at Duxford. I think if I’d have had to crew one of those things in the full flight suit and other gear they would have had to build the plane around me. Then you give the fuselage skin a tap and realise that’s they only thing protecting you from the elements and all kinds of nasty things coming your way in many calibres and fragments. 

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