View Full Version : I took a ride in a B-17G today

07-21-2005, 06:18 PM
The "Liberty Belle" was in the town where I work today. A few of us snuck out of work during around 9 this morning and got to go up in her. The regular price is $395, but we got a nice little discount as we bought out the whole plane (7 seats).

The plane was hot inside until we got up in the air and then we got a nice breeze flowing through her. Lots of holes in a B-17 plus the pilots had their side windows open.

Takeoff was smooth and we got to get out of our seats when she was about 50 feet off the ground. My seat was up in the radio operator's area and I quickly headed back to the waist gunner positions once we got the thumbs up to move. Great views out the windows. I manned one of the waist .50's in case a stray 190 came out of nowhere. After a minute or two it looked like the skies were clear of any enemy aircraft so I headed up to the nose.

When moving around in an airborne B-17, or even just standing in one place, you need to hang onto something as the plane bounces around enough that you can loose your balance.

From the waist, you have to step around the ball turret in the belly and then go through the radio operator's compartment. Passing through the door in the next bulkhead and you step onto the catwalk in the bomb bay. Fortunately, there are ropes on both sides as the walkway is only about 7 or 8 inches wide and the plane is bouncing around. Fall off and you land on the bomb bay doors!

When I got to the bomb racks I got hung up as I had stuffed extra camera lenses in each pocket and I didn't quite fit. I have a 34 inch waist so that would make me about 15 inches wide at the hips and the camera lenses stopped me from going through without turning sideways.

Stepping through the door in the next bulkhead puts me right underneath the top turret. I have to tell you now that the plane has two pilots and a "flight attendant". Its too loud to talk without yelling so the flight attendant pointed to the bulkhead I just stepped over and to a bar above my head. I got the message and stood on the bulkhead and grabbed the bar. I can now look out the turret and see a full 360 degrees over the top of the plane.

You can't go up to the flight deck so I step down to go underneath it and head to the nose. I get on my hands and knees and crawl the few feet to the nose. On the left is a small table the bombardier must use for looking at his maps. There is a small chair here for him to sit on. Looking out the side window I can see engines 1 and 2 purring away. What a sight! I turn around and 3 and 4 are visible out the other side. Woohoo! My buddy is sitting in the bombardier's seat and videotaping out the nose. I look to my left and the bombardier's panel is there. The altimeter is bouncing around right at 2,000 feet. My friend turns around and sees me and lets me take his place. I sit down in the little seat facing out the nose and the only thing in front of me is a bombsight and some plexiglass. I watch the farmland of Ohio pass underneath me as the plane flies on.

I got a bombsight right in front of me so I just had to check it out. I put my eye in it and can't see much. I turn a few knobs, but still nothing. Finally it dawns on me that the sight is lined up on the seam where that little window is in the nose. I grab the whole thing and turn it to the left about 30 degrees. I look through the sight and "Johnson's" farm is dead ahead. I turn the knobs and raise the sight enough to line up the cross hairs on the barn. I slowly turn the elevation knob backwards and track the barn for a few seconds keeping the crosshairs centered on the barn. I look over at the bombardier's panel and locate the Open/Close bomb bay doors switch. Too bad we didn't have any bombs!!!

Lots of instructions on the panel about selecting intervals between bombs (spacing between bombs hitting the ground) and auto-dropping all bombs or just a few and a bunch of other stuff. (Sorry, but too much going on to take all of that in).

We fly over the town and we can see Main Street and and eventually the airport. The flight is almost over and we get the word that we have to take our seats again.

Sitting down for the landing I look up and watched the 7 steel cables a few inches over my head move back and forth as the pilots moved the control surfaces to bring the Liberty Belle in for a landing. Just another thing you don't see on your average airline flight!

I hope this gives you a little bit of an idea what it is like to go up in a B-17.

Below is a link to my on-line briefcase with some photos I took last week when she flew into town. Look in the folder "Liberty Belle". The other B-17 folder has some nice cockpit shots of the "Yankee Lady" I took a year ago. There is also a folder with some shots from the US Air Force Museum.

If my in-flight photos turn out I will post them in the "Liberty Belle" folder in a week or two. Hopefully I can get a copy of the video my friend shot and post that somewhere too.



07-21-2005, 06:36 PM
lucjy guy http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

07-21-2005, 06:49 PM
Congrats Zeus, you have now joined the B-17 Club twice. It's a thing of beauty and a treat to ride in... thanks God tho it's not during the war. I was afraid to touch anything on the Norden on my ride, so I just sat there and took all the pictures I could and made a video too.

I was up in 2002 in Yankee Lady for my first ride. August 20th, 2005 I hope to get a peek inside 9O9 and the B-27 Liberator in Massena, NY, owned by the Collings Foundation. Seeing the 2 together will be a special treat for us up here in the North Country of NY. If anyone is close enough, I hope you come on over and join us.

07-21-2005, 06:57 PM
Very cool! When can we expect pictures from today?

-HH- Beebop
07-21-2005, 07:54 PM
Sweet, sweet, sweet! Can't wait to see the pic's from today.

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

07-21-2005, 08:51 PM
Ohio? This wasn't the Gathering of Eagles at Lost Nation, was it?

07-21-2005, 09:07 PM
Sounds fantastic. I had a B-17 and a B-24 land at the airport nearby last October and both were offering half hour flights, but I didn't take any.

If they come back this year here's my dilema: which to fly in? I have a great love of the B-17 but since that one got all the attention in October it left me feeling "bad" for the B-24 and it's crew. Poor thing was left parked there with nobody interested while everyone checked out the B-17 and took pictures with it http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

I know I sound nuts, but if I choose one I'll feel bad for the other! Both is out of the question btw. Even one isn't cheap. Stupid oversensitive brain makes even dumb decisions like this nerve-wracking!

I envy you. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

07-21-2005, 09:24 PM
No this wasn't the Gathering of Lost Eagles.

One of the guys I work (Frank) helped restore this aircraft. The owner of the B-17 had it up in Ohio as it is scheduled to go to Cincinnati. Frank told them he could get some people to buy rides, so they stopped by our little airport for a few days for maintenance (it was due for her 100 hour inspection). They managed to get enough people to take her up 4 or 5 times today and take in some good money. They also made some money selling t-shirts (I bought one) and got a lot of people to tour her for $5 a head.

It costs about $2,000 to $3,000 an hour to operate a B-17. Fuel, maintenance, liability insurance, hotels and food for the people that travel with the plane plus expenses for the pilots. The Liberty Belle has four sets of pilots and I think they are all commercial airline pilots. The pilots do not stay with the plane. They fly in to the nearest major airport on the day the plane is scheduled to take people up, they rent a car or someone picks them up and gets them to the airport where the B-17 is at. They fly the B-17 for a few hours with passengers in it and shuttle it to the next little airport. Once they get it on the ground they put it on static display and go back to their regular jobs as pilots for the airlines. The B-17 was on static display in our town for 11 days.

They like to use these little airports that have no commercial flights as there are no security problems. People could walk out to the plane at any time of the day to take pictures of it and walk around.

I almost forgot to mention that it took between 80,000 and 90,000 hours to restore this B-17 and it cost $3.7 million.


07-21-2005, 09:45 PM
Now imaginge walking around like that with a heavy sheepskin flightsuit, parachute harness and flak vest on, too. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif

This is actually one reason that I've heard many aircrew (especially nav and bombardier) preferred the -17 over the -24. The nose section of the Liberator is much more cramped and was almost impossible to move around in.

Oh, before I forget...
You lucky @$&@*&#! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

07-21-2005, 09:59 PM
I'm jealous http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif....

07-22-2005, 02:35 AM
Wow, Z-C! Wish it had been me http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif. Looking forward to the pics.


07-22-2005, 03:05 AM
......and he wasn't sure if he wanted to go. Great stuff mate. $3.7 million http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif Makes you cringe when people don't wipe their feet when they climb aboard huh? It would me....

07-22-2005, 03:28 AM
Ok Z-Cat, it worked,....I'm jealous. Next you are gonna tell me you have three testis? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif

Just kidding of course. Thanx a whole wacka-bunch(Cape Bretoners will understand) for posting the pics and describing the experience. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif


07-22-2005, 03:31 AM
Very nice http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif
yes I am jealus d**m I wish we had more warbirds in Sweden http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

can`t see in the folders thou ?

07-22-2005, 03:32 AM
Originally posted by asgeirr73:
Very nice http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif
yes I am jealus d**m I wish we had more warbirds in Sweden http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

can`t see in the folders thou ?

I'd take a sweet single Valkrie over a warbird anyday http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif


07-22-2005, 11:21 AM
Im affraid to fly. Realy.

07-22-2005, 11:32 AM
OK it works the same as getting caught with gum in 3rd grade.

Tomorrow you have to bring enough B-17 for the entire class. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

07-22-2005, 12:11 PM
Originally posted by Udidtoo:
OK it works the same as getting caught with gum in 3rd grade.

Tomorrow you have to bring enough B-17 for the entire class. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif


07-22-2005, 12:58 PM
ohhhh, man...lucky dog! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

07-22-2005, 02:05 PM
Pirschjaeger> yeah I got a sweet one http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif
but stil not much warbirds around http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

07-22-2005, 02:55 PM
Man, I envy you...

07-22-2005, 05:42 PM
Excellent! Man I want to catch a ride in a B17 - Totally have to do that before too long. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif

I got to walk through WitchCraft at Seattle Museam of Flight a couple of weeks ago...


07-23-2005, 12:33 AM
well i was at geneseo airshow a couple weekends ago. i didnt go in it, but i checked out the b-17.she must o been flying to ur city after it was done at geneseo. i say, geneseo is the only airshow where u can walk up, sit under and touch planes, i even stalked the guy flying the F4U-5NL after he landed to get a autogrpagh befor he left. to bad we had no 109 http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif . but yea shes a monster when she roars down the runway. o yea and 1 thing i leanred was, never lave hawker hurricans or spitfires idle, they hate idling!! lol

07-23-2005, 01:10 AM
Thanks for taking the time to post this Maj. I'd like to hear you talk about it but just remembered you will be white water rafting this weekend. Good for you m8. Just be safe. Wear two life vest. We need you around to keep Beebop in line m8. HEHE Have fun. Oh..and just kidding Col. HEHE

07-26-2005, 06:24 PM
Can't believe I'm going to miss WitchCraft myself. However as a member of the Yankee Air Force I've had many opportunities to get up close and personal with our B-17G. I haven't gone up in her yet (Yankee Lady), but plan to soon along with the B-25D and Gooney Bird.
We are going to have one hell of a show if you like heavy metal. Check out <www.Yankeeairmuseum.org> http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif

07-26-2005, 11:07 PM
Originally posted by CWH1089:
ohhhh, man...lucky dog! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

More like lucky (Hell) hound.

Thanks for sharing Zeus...very nice.