Exact 75th First Flight Anniversary Date Is During Oshkosh
The Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress,"
perhaps the most readily recognized bomber of the World War II era,
will have the spotlight for its 75th anniversary during EAA
AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, July 26-August 1 at Wittman Regional
Airport in Oshkosh.
Only about 15 of the iconic aircraft remain airworthy anywhere
in the world, including EAA's renowned "Aluminum Overcast," which
brings aviation history to the public through its annual national
tours. Potentially, at least four B-17s could be present at Oshkosh
as the exact 75th-anniversary date of the B-17's first flight, July
28, 1935, comes during AirVenture.
"We are making the call to all B-17 owners to join us at Oshkosh
this year for an unmatched celebration of this 75th anniversary,"
said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman.
"The B-17 is well-known to the public through its military service,
as well as through movie and television productions made over the
past 70 years. Nothing can match seeing and hearing these
magnificent airplanes in person, especially when a significant
number can gather in one place. The natural place for this
celebration is AirVenture, where this year we are also organizing a
major national Salute to Veterans program."
A special schedule of flyovers and ground programs will be part
of the B-17 75th anniversary commemoration, along with an evening
program on Wednesday, July 28 - 75 years to the day of the B-17's
first test flight. In addition, B-17s will participate in the
Warbirds shows on several days during AirVenture 2010.
According to Boeing Aircraft historians, the B-17 went from its
design as the Model 299 prototype to flight testing in less than 12
months. The B-17 was a low-wing monoplane that combined
aerodynamic features of the XB-15 bomber and the Model 247
transport. The B-17 was the first Boeing military aircraft with a
flight deck instead of an open cockpit, and was armed with bombs
and five .30-caliber machine guns mounted in clear "blisters."
The first B-17s saw combat in 1941, when the British Royal Air
Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions.
The B-17E, the first mass-produced model Flying Fortress, carried
nine machine guns and a 4,000-pound bomb load. It was several tons
heavier than the prototypes and bristled with armament. It was the
first Boeing airplane with the distinctive tail for improved
control and stability during high-altitude bombing. Each version
was more heavily armed.
Boeing plants built a total of 6,981 B-17s in various models,
and another 5,745 were built under a nationwide collaborative
effort by Douglas and Lockheed (Vega). Most B-17s were scrapped at
the end of World War II. Some of the last Flying Fortresses met
their end as target drones in the 1960s - destroyed by Boeing-built
military missiles. EAA's "Aluminum Overcast," fortunately, was
saved from the scrap heap when it was originally purchased as
surplus for $750 in the mid-1940s.