Sunday, October 12, 2014

Once In A Lifetime

 I won a once in a lifetime chance to fly on my choice of a WW2 B-17 Flying Fortress or the WW2 B-24 Liberator. When the event promoters called me up and told me I had won two seats, I was stunned, when they asked me if I was free that day, I told them, practically shouted at them, "Yes!" and my choice was automatic, the iconic B-17. So I gave them my name and my friend's name (wasn't a difficult choice on whom to pick to go with me) and they sent me the details and locations to be.
Fate having a twisted sense of humour, in cahoots with Mother Nature, ensured it was
 raining cats and dogs. Undeterred, I packed by best gear and went in search of the plane.
There is something about standing in the shadows of history that gives one pause. The men who fought and died in the plane, and damage it took, the sheer awesomeness of it all, it wasn't something to be approached lightly. With the, at times heavy downpour, the colours, already muted with military greens, were further rendered into drabness, all the exterior images have been converted to Black and White.

Despite the rain, there were a fair number of people about, both inside the plane touring, and outside, so taking a picture of each plane without people around was a matter of patience. We waited a fair amount of hours for the rain to let up, which it finally did, at least enough for the crew to take the B-17 into the air. Inside the bomber was much more cramped than I expected, given the tremendous size and moving about required dexterity and flexibility, but once we were settled in, the captain and co-pilot taxied us down the runway, waited for the green light, and then opened up the engines. 
The sonic wall of power and fury assaulted my senses and I was awash in the roar and motion as the B-17 tore up the tarmac and launched itself into the sky. Once up we were free to move about and explore, with the only off-limits area being the ball turret inside and read tail gun. Given the fortress had no fancy electronics, or radar, we stayed reasonably low, above the rain and mountains, but not so high up as to freeze us. Nonetheless I was glad for a heavy coat. I do not recall how long the flight was, but it was worth every second and even now my ear still hum
 with the sounds of the Wright Cyclones bass rumble.
I will probably never again have such an opportunity, but in this case, one will be enough.

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