July 24, 2014

B-17 veterans take to the sky

B-17 PHOTO; WHBY

B-17 PHOTO; WHBY

A group of World War II veterans got a chance to get up in the air on one of their old planes. The Experimental Aircraft Association helped organize a special flight on a B-17 bomber Monday. Bob Schuh of Chilton was a tailgunner on a Flying Fortress. “It brought back a lot of memories, I’ll tell you,” he said. “Some of the places on the plane were pretty familier.” It was Schuh’s first time on a B-17 since the war.

Red Oestreich of Oshkosh lives near the EAA grounds. A tailgunner, he recalled losing “a lot of planes” on a mission over Berlin. “The sound of the engines, that’s always a good sound with us. When I’m in the house, and a B-17 flies over, I can tell it.”

AUDIO: B-17 veterans (:45)

Bob Abresch of Wauwatosa used to fly the B-17. He had a chance to stand behind the pilot on Monday. “I’d like to have sat in the seat, but I couldn’t do that,” he said. “The vibration, the sound, it just gets you. It really does.”

Chet Gardeski of Milwaukee was a flight engineer and top turret gunner. “We all pinned our lives on it every day. It was really a treat to get back into it, and to fly,” he said.

Family members of some of the vets were on hand to watch the take-off and arrival. The EAA held the event to kick off a national tour of the B-17, known as “Aluminum Overcast.”

WHBY