The Aluminum Overcast was built in 1945. It is one of 12 B17 bombers still airworthy today
Paul Gambaiana of Hawarden, Iowa was a special guest on the first Sioux City flight. He was a B17 pilot during World War II. He spent time as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down.
KTIV's Al Joens and other members of the media helped to "turn the props" prior to the flight. Each propeller is turned 9 times manually to prevent hydraulic lockup.
George Daubner, left and Shawn Knickerbocker pilot the B17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" over Sioux City
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
A piece of history has flown into Sioux City: an old warbird; a World War II era B17 Flying Fortress. It's here for the Transportation Expo that starts Friday at the MidAmerica Museum of Aviation and Transportation.
With her distinctive rich sound and smoky startup, the B17 Flying Fortress is the iconic four-engine heavy bomber that helped win World War Two. This plane was built for the war, but the war ended before it saw combat, so it never dropped bombs. Over the years, it's been used for aerial mapping, fire fighting and crop spraying. She underwent a 10-year restoration in the 1980s and today the Aluminum Overcast is one of only 12 B17s still flying.
"Flying this airplane never gets old," said George Daubner, Aluminum Overcast Pilot. "And the really cool part about flying this airplane is we have the opportunity of meeting, and of course it's not as often anymore, but meeting World War Two veterans, which are just absolute rock star heroes. So, you know, to get to meet those people and talk to them, the people that actually flew these airplanes or crew members while somebody was shooting at them, that's pretty unbelievable."
The Aluminum Overcast is a project of the Experimental Aircraft Association out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She tours extensively and has logged over one-million flight miles. We got to go up on a flight for the media and local emergency personnel.
Shawn Knickerbocker is another pilot for the Aluminum Overcast. What's he like about flying this historic plane?
"The history, the tradition and just the privilege to fly such a magnificent airplane," he said.
Thursday's flight over Sioux City had a VIP: 92-year old Paul Gambaiana of Hawarden, Iowa. He was co-pilot of a B17 during the war. He flew ten missions up until he got shot down and spent time as a prisoner of war. This is the first time he's been inside a B17 in 70 years.
After the flight, he pronounced it fantastic with a laugh. "I haven't flown in one of these for over 70 years and it means a great deal. It brings back a lot of old, old memories."
If you want to see a piece of flying history that's still flying all these years later, it's landed in Sioux City.
The Aluminum Overcast will be the headliner exhibit for the 2014 Expo at the MidAmerica Museum of Aviation and Transportation tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $10, which includes a ground tour of the museum and the B17. You can also take a flight on the plane each of those three days. Cost is $435 dollars for members of the Experimental Aircraft Association, $475 for non-members.
The flight is about 30 minutes. If you're interested, the number to call is 920-371-2244.
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