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 B-17 "Flying Fortress" flight

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Juan Freizwidatt
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:09 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Okay, so yesterday was my birthday. (It doesn't matter which one, age is just a number. But mine's unlisted. However I can say that I'm starting to think about retirement.....) Anyway, I decided to give myself a birthday treat today -- a flight over San Francisco Bay in a restored WWII B-17 bomber. It was extravagant but it truly was a once in a lifetime experience, enhanced considerably by a couple of hours of conversation with three veteran B-17 crewmembers who showed up to see the grand old bird again. It certainly gives a different perspective. For me this was a glorious little jaunt. But I wasn't worried about being shot down...

During the war B-17 crews were committed to 25 missions before rotating out. This was lengthened to 30 as the war progressed. The odds of surviving 25 missions were 1 in 5 -- 20%. Each of the vets I spoke with today went through harrowing experiences -- two went through crash landings, one was shot down over Munich, parachuted safely but was captured and held in a POW camp for a year.

Anyway, it's amazing airplane and it was a thrill to go up in one. Here are a few pictures:

Firing up the engines:

Image


Taxiing:
Image

Image

The view standing up through the observation port -- open air, at 150mph!

Image


From the bombadier's perch in the nose of the plane, under the cockpit:

Image


We flew over the Golden Gate Bridge, then banked and flew back over on the return:

Image


Oakland Bay Bridge, from the waist gunner's perch:


Image


San Francisco Bay, I couldn't find anything to shoot at:


Image


I'd do that trip again in a heartbeat! Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:16 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Wow Shocked

Happy <insert number here> st/nd/rd/th birthday!

That truly was a once in a lifetime experience! I wish all commercial flights could have that view!

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Very nice! You could have laid down some lead at the junction of West MacArthur and San Pablo in Oakland. Or E 14th Street. Glad you had a fine day!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 12:05 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Great photos, looks like it was an excellent experience.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 12:40 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Wonderful. Thanks for sharing it!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:23 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I was going to ask what the citizens of SF might think to see this ancient bomber above them, US being invaded by Guatemalan forces, perhaps, but I gather the inhabitants of SF are pretty much immured to weird sights and sounds....

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:05 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Picture below caption:
"From the bombadier's perch in the nose of the plane, under the cockpit"
looks like Treasure Island.

My mom was stationed there from 1944-1946 while in the Navy.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:38 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Nice one! Looks like fun!

I worked in SF in 1984 as a pede-cab driver down at fishermans warf... could'ja drop a bomb on the owner of the other pede cab company? We pushed his brother in laws motorcycle into the bay....

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 4:56 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I worked with a great guy that was a flight engineer on one. When the crew assembled in England, they were given the opportunity to fly only 20 missions as "Lead". The whole crew voted and agreed. It was not for a while that they found out that no lead bomber ever made 20 missions.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 5:54 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Juan Freizwidatt wrote:
It was extravagant but it truly was a once in a lifetime experience...


At the risk of being impolite, may one ask how extravagant? Just out of personal curiosity.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 6:20 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^
Not impolite since it's published public knowledge -- $430.

San Francisco Chronicle article

Liberty Foundation website

I could have flown to New York on a 737 for that, but frankly I'd much rather fly 30 minutes over San Francisco in a WWII bomber than 5 hours to NY in coach on a cramped jet...............

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 9:38 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Wow.. I'd love to have a go at that. Sadly, as far as I know there's no-one doing that sort of thing over here. Must admit, this would be my weapon of choice...

Image


there's an IKEA near here which would benefit from it's attention.... Twisted Evil

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:12 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Very Happy Very Happy haaaaa the old ladies, amazing things they were, and i do pay my respects to all those who flew them.

Seen Pics of that one before, and flown in one myself in 1989 in Farnborough.

Happy birthday to you then Very Happy

That is me flying an "Old Lady" in 1998 for the Expo 98


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:14 am Reply with quoteBack to top

That's pretty damn cool JF!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:15 am Reply with quoteBack to top

@!Mike, If you mean England , YES there is, got the contact somewhere, let me know if you want it Wink

hmmmm...well they were still doing it a few years back, so i presume they still are.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:17 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Juan
Nice photographs, hope our son working in S.A., managed to see it.
The B17 in Britian is at Duxford airfield museum, Cambrigeshire, which is just down the road from us, they also have a memoral, dedicated to every American airman, who flew from Britian, during WWII.

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Afraid if you want to get a flight in a Lancaster, then you need to go to Canada, according to my brother.
Why stick to one bomber, would like to see a few hundred, have a free hand, quite a few places in this country could do with a facelift.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:20 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^ AFAIK, there's only 2 Lancasters left in flying condition - the BBMF's got the other. Doubt it would have the range from Canada to hit IKEA. @Fred - any info would be welcome - wife's always looking for birthday present ideas for me Rolling Eyes

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:12 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Juan, Happy Birthday!

happy crowd

Thanks for pics!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 3:18 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Great posting and very nice photos. I forgot to wish you a Happy Birthday Juan.

Talking to the flight crews is something else. All the ones that I have come across have been very intelligent and filled with amazing stories. I would have loved to have been there when three of them got together. I've seen them pull out their short snorters and talk about old times.

One waist gunner told me about the time he started talking bennies before his missions. One mission was canceled due to weather over the target and he ended up cleaning and tuning every bicycle in the squadron. He pointed a finger at me and told me to not take my Benzedrine until I saw the English Channel.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 3:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Here are three vets sharing stories and pictures:

Image

The fellow in the center is the one who was shot down and captured. He was a font of stories and detailed information, I learned more about the design of the plane itself by talking to him than in all the reading and Googling I've done.

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