Saturday, May 24, 2008

WWII Era B-17 Bomber Just Flew Over My House

Where Do The Bombs Drop From?

Photo & Text Copyright 2008 Seattle Daily Photo. All rights reserved, including reproduction or republishing.

Wow, this "Flying Fortress" rumbled close over my house yesterday at 10:41 AM, and again today at 11:13 AM, starting the Memorial Day weekend off with appropriate thoughts of veterans and their service during WWII. I heard its noisy prop engines coming, grabbed my camera from the desk, ran to the window and just caught sight of this huge vintage B-17 bomber (originally made by Seattle's own Boeing Aircraft and completely restored to period combat readiness by the Experimental Aircraft Association). I found out its name is "Aluminium Overcast." Today I was outside taking photos of flowers when it passed directly above again. It is owned and operated by EAA and is on a yearly educational tour of the US. There are only 14 of these aircraft left flying in the world today. You can tour it and even go for a flight around Seattle in it this weekend. Be sure to wave to me as it flies over our place!


Jim said...

Great job catching it as it went by. I knew it had to be old, so big and with propellers.

Leans said...

Hello, I want to thanks the comment n my blog, and yeah, I`m having fun so far, and I hope keep that, very nice picture, must be very awesome see a plain like this. Well, thats it. Keep up the good work. Salutes

Phil_O'Logus said...

Great shot. I love these famous old WWII bombers. I have a soft spot for the British Lancaster. Cheers...

Knoxville Girl said...

Whoa! That's one impressive plane! My dad was an airplane mechanic in the Navy during WWII, but was on an aircraft carrier, so didn't work on anything this big. Wonderful capture.

Wendy said...

We saw it too here on Bainbridge and wondered what it was!

Marcel said...

I agree with Jim. Great catch and well done too.

Abraham Lincoln said...

It was an amazing aircraft and lots of them remain buried in Europe where they fell from the sky. It would be a real shock for me to see one fly over my house. I am less shocked to see a large jet than a piston engine plane. I wonder why that is, unless it is the noise. A P-51 Mustang engine has a distinctive sound. I like the sounds of engines. You got an impressive picture here that shows the machine guns in the rear and on the sides.

Louis la Vache said...

Great photo! "Louis" has an uncle who piloted at B-17 in the 8th Air Force in WWII and was wounded by German flak on a bombing run over Germany. The shell came within a fraction of an inch of his aorta. The co-pilot was killed by another shell. "Louis's" uncle was able to maintain consciousness and pilot the plane back to a safe landing in the U.K.

Your photo reminds "Louis" of being on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Hornet (CV12) on the anniversary of the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo. A group of restored B-25s flew overhead with WWII veteran pilots and carrier sailors on the deck. It was quite a moving sight. Hornet is now a museum at Pier 3 of the now-closed Navy base at Alameda, CA. The B-25s flown in the Doolittle Raid were loaded onto Hornet (CV8) at this very pier. CV8 was lost in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands a few months later. CV12 was being built at the time. Originallly slated to be called Kearsarge, CV12 was re-named Hornet in place of CV8 as the Navy has had a Hornet continuously since the late 18th century.

"Louis's" Memorial Day photo is of four Admirals resting at the Golden Gate National Cemetery.

Ervin Vice said...

This reminds me -- and I hope this isn't too far off topic - of an NPR segment I heard yesterday morning.

They were interviewing various former Navy doctors and corpsmen who were serving with the Marines in Vietnam. Some of them operated under conditions that were downright medieval. One of them described having to place sandbags around the operating table and perform the surgery while leaning over the bags because the patient had an explosive device protruding from his stomach! These guys were talking about events that occurred 40 years ago. I got the impression that 1) they remembered those days vividly, 2) the memories brought them great pain and 3) they had never discussed them with anyone before. They each and every one lost control of their emotions and found it difficult to continue talking; when they resumed, their words struggled to be heard through sobs.

What does this bomber have to do with Vietnam ("Face it, Walter. It's got nothing to do with Vietnam!"). Well, I admit isn't directly related to Vietnam, but I was thinking of veterans when I saw this shot and remembered that NPR story, and here you are with a forum for discussion. That's it!

Maya said...

What a great shot! Talk about being at the right place at the right time!

Tomate Farcie said...

Good for you!! I heard something unusual on Sunday above my head when I was driving on the freeway, and when I looked up, I saw 2 military helicopters flying together... I was tempted to reach for the camera in my bag but then I decided to keep my eyes on the road instead.

Glad you got the shot!

Kim said...

Jim, thanks. The only larger military craft I've had fly directly over my head was a stealth bomber. . .at the Rose Parade in January 2002. It seemed completely silent and huge and low and had an escort of 2 F-16s, the noise of which scared the innards outta me.

Leans, glad you are enjoying blogging your city! Thanks for coming by.

Phil, I'm going to have to Google the Lancaster. When I was a kid my school class took a field trip to see WWI & WWII fighting planes. All I can remember now were the impressively painted "Flying Tigers" we saw and an RAF bi-wing.

Knoxville Girl, Wow, you dad had an important job! My dad was a radarman during the war and served on a carrier after the war. It's amazing what was accomplished from those carriers.

Wendy, I remember last year it or one like it flew out over the Sound. They sure don't look like a float plane, do they? :-)

Marcel, Thanks very much!

Abe, Thank you. It was fun to try to catch its image in flight. I can only imagine what a drone dozens of these made flying together. Thanks for pointing out the machine guns. What a scary job to man THOSE!

Wow Luis, what an amazing thing your uncle did under unimaginable circumstances. My father served active duty on the Hornet (which is now the museum piece near where I used to live) so I'm doubly familiar with it. It is admirable that you feature admirals for Memorial Day!

Mr. P., There is so little space naturally afforded returned military personnel to share their stories, process their experiences, and no more so than for those who served in Vietnam. Granted, most people who experience battle seldom speak of it. It wasn't until we were watching a televised ceremony of the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion that I turned to my father in law and said, "Dad, you served in WWII, where were you during the Normandy invasion?" My husband and I were shocked and fascinated to see him point to the TV and hear him say he had been right there as a 19 year old Army 4th Cavalry member who saw fellows from his landing craft jump too soon and drown from the weight of their gear, and a short while later he and those others that made it ashore were climbing the cliffs of Utah beach and surprised to find themselves still alive at the top. He had never spoken of it, and his kids only knew he drove a jeep during the war and brought back a German luger as a memento. He was very moved by the French expressions of appreciation still at that 50th anniversary ceremony on TV. My father, uncles, and my older brother all served during various wars. None brought it up. I finally did a little oral history project with an uncle to learn of his Battle of the Bulge experiences. He got together at formal reunions every few years with guys he served with and they could talk to each other. My brother never spoke of Vietnam, and when asked would only say he was offshore on a ship shelling the hell out of the coast. Our friends who served on the ground in Vietnam to this day have active flash backs and nightmares (according to their wives) and don't care to speak about those days. I think the depth of the experience of war is too hard to convey or have understood by people who have not similarly faced it. I also think veterans feelings about their experiences are profound and deeply disturbing and on the the whole remain bottled up for a lifetime until someone says, "Hello in there."

Maya, thanks!

Tomate, Thanks (and good to hear from you!). Glad you made the good choice ;^). We used to hear and see those copters above our Berkeley house a lot before the Gulf War. They are SO loud. So much for secret preparations.


Geologychick said...

hey, check out my March 8th post!
too funny!