Did you miss your chance last year to get a ride in the EAA’s fully restored B-17 Flying Fortress when it visited Lewis University Airport? Well, never fear: it’s baa-aaack! Or it will be, anyway, early next month – and this year, it’ll be here during Lockport’s World War II Days, too. The Oshkosh, WI-based Experimental Aircraft Association, which has an annual air show and meet there every summer, just held its 2013 AirVenture Oshkosh last week, and the group’s vintage bomber, the Aluminum Overcast, officially began its national tour last Friday at Purdue-U airport in Lafayette, IN.
This sleek baby with the crystal-clear nose will be making stops across the country through mid-October and will be in Romeoville the weekend of Sept. 6-8. The plane’s visit is being sponsored locally (as usual) by EAA Warbird Squadron 4, a group of local aviation enthusiasts who meet at Lewis Airport. We wrote about this cool trip last autumn after my colleague Joe Kubal received a flight ticket from his mom as a delayed birthday present. Joe enjoyed it so much he couldn’t stop talking about it for days. What fun! Plenty of parking at the airfield. Besides, it’s an excuse to hit Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket or White Fence Farm afterward for dinner and eat a little history (See? We thought of everything).
You, too, can cruise high above Route 66 if you’ve got the geld (the price is steep, but the funds go to maintain this vintage aircraft and keep it flying). If you want a flight on the B-17, advance reservations are strongly recommended. You can register online here, call 1-800-359-6217 (1.800.FLY.NB17) or e-mail email@example.com for more information. Cost of the flight will be $409 for EAA members and $449 nonmembers for those who register in advance but $435 for EAA members/$475 for nonmembers who register on site the day of their flight. This year, there’s even a payment plan available to those who reserve ahead, to make the flight more affordable.
You can read more about the Aluminum Overcast and the history of the B-17s at the EAA’s B-17 history page online. Awww, are your eyes are glazing over at all this plane nostalgia, gals? They shouldn’t: remember that Rosie the Riveter and her female co-workers assembled those B-17s and supplied critical labor for war materiel and other women flew them to their respective air bases while the men went off to battle. You should go take a look at what it is that your foremamas built, and bring your darling daughters with you (maybe some of them will want to learn to fly high-tech jets; hey, it’s a good living).
For those who feel better staying on the ground, there will be tours of the parked aircraft itself at the airfield – $10 for adults, $20 per family, and free for veterans, active members of the armed forces and kids 8 and younger. There will also be a free shuttle between Lewis Airport and the main WW II Days site at Dellwood Park.
Speaking of which: WW II Days will be on in Lockport Sept. 5-8, starting Thursday evening the 5th with a 5K run to honor U.S. servicemen and servicewomen. The run will begin in Dellwood Park at IL 171/State Street and Woods Drive. A free concert by Infinity will follow the run at 7pm. Friday through Sunday will feature a WW II reenactment for those who are up for it, also in Dellwood Park; you can register for it here. A complete downloadable schedule of events for the weekend can be found at this link. The organizers brag that it’ll only be 4 miles between the airfield and ‘battlefield’ … why don’t I find that comforting? Never mind: it’ll be fun for military history enthusiasts. The rest of us can drool over the pretty plane.
And for those of you who really want a plane ride in the B-17 but for whom the rest of the weekend will be just too much WW II overkill (like me), don’t forget that this year’s Berwyn Route 66 Car Show is that very same weekend – on Saturday, Sept. 7 (my birthday!!!), starting at about 10:30-11:00 a.m. for visitors and much earlier for exhibitors (exhibitors must register and find appropriate parking places for displaying their sport, custom and/or vintage vehicles). More details on that later as the date approaches.
And you thought all the fun would be over after Labor Day; silly you! Of course not. We’ll keep you apprised of all the good stuff coming up on our part of the route. Me? I’m looking forward to fast cars and a fast plane that weekend. Wheeeee!
Until next time, fellow roadies!