Old B-17 Visits Oshkosh Again For Flights
By Maria Morrison
This year, a piece of WWII history returns to Oshkosh; the B-17 bomber, Aluminum Overcast. This plane is equipped with machine guns, a ball turret, bombardier station, and many other things, Aluminum Overcast is a Lockheed Vega built WWII B-17. It has the triangle W on the tail, which is close to a tail number.
Inside a war B-17, there are 10 positions. Pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator, radio operator, top turret gunner, ball turret gunner, two waist gunners, and a tail gunner. Each manned a different station and had a different job. Navigators charted courses, bombardiers chose when to drop the bombs, radio operators handled the radios and used morse code, pilots flew, and gunners shot things. Aluminum Overcast never actually saw a battle, but it is painted to look like a plane that did. Aluminum Overcast got its name from two people flying under it and observing, “It’s like an Aluminum Overcast!”.
Rides on the Aluminum Overcast are $435 per person for EAA members and $475 for non-members. The pack includes a ground walkaround as a time to talk about the plane and a 25 minute flight around the Oshkosh area. As soon as the pilot gives the signal, passengers are welcome to walk around, take photos, or just sit back and enjoy the ride in this authentic B-17 bomber.
Those who do walk around go around the ball turret, up a catwalk in the middle of a sea of bombs, past the navigator room, and up to the all-glass bombardier station. On some flights the radio room hatch is open for a great photo opportunity, but make sure that you have a good hold of your cameras, hats, and children. My flight in the B-17 was very memorable. The deep rumble of the takeoff and the later roar of the B-17’s four engines. The huge plume of smoke that comes out during the startup. With such a magnificent plane, this is a once in a lifetime experience that is too amazing to pass up.