Route 66 update:  video of EAA’s B-17 bomber at Lewis Airport

Thought you had enough updates on this weekend’s Route 66 events, did you?  Well, maybe not!  Yesterday on the Chicago Tribune’s website, the multimedia guys loaded a video of folks taking a plane ride in Romeoville, IL – specifically, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s beautifully restored B-17 Flying Fortress, the Aluminum Overcast.  Wheeee!  Looked like fun.  You can see the video here.

The Aluminum Overcast has three forward-looking compartments:  a gunner's roost at the top, the pilots' deck just below that, and the clear nose cone in front, which gave excellent views to gunners on either side of the nose.  Photo copyright 2012 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.

The Aluminum Overcast has three forward-looking compartments: a gunner’s roost at the top, the pilots’ deck just below that, and the clear nose cone in front, which gave excellent views to gunners on either side of the nose. Photo copyright 2012 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.

We wrote about this event a few weeks ago, and it’s an annual affair.  You can still catch EAA’s B-17 bomber at Lewis University Airport this weekend.  Even if you can’t afford the pricy tariff for a ride, you can still get a tour on the ground for cheap.  The airport is maybe a mile west of IL 53/Route 66 on Renwick Road.  You’ll see the drive on the north side of Renwick.  Just follow the crowds, and you can’t miss it.  And for the armchair travelers, EAA has a page full of photos from the tour.

That’s it for now.  If you’re going to the Berwyn Route 66 Car Show tomorrow (Saturday the 7th), don’t forget to stop by the tents in the center and say hi to the folks from the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway.  We’ll be hanging out with them most of the day doing our meet-and-greet, when we aren’t circulating in the crowd.  LOVE to meet you-all!

Until next time,


Route 66 song of the week video plus Berwyn car show update, miscellany, Santa Fe Speedway

Okay, we’ve been telling you for weeks now that the Berwyn Route 66 Car Show and the EAA’s B-17 visit to Lewis University Airport are this coming weekend, along with Quarry Days in Hodgkins.   And Saturday evening in Hodgkins is the last car cruise of the summer.  So:  in honor of all that car culture, it only seems fair that this week’s Route 66 song of the week video is composer and arranger Nelson Riddle’s theme from the Route 66 TV show – in this case, supporting a video parade of classic cars, with emphasis on (wait for it) Corvettes.  I love that guy; he was so good with arrangements, but also that’s a damned fine theme.  Our thanks to Tom Bower for posting this clip on YouTube.

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Route 66 events:  the Dog Days of Summer car-lover’s schedule

They don’t call August the dog days without cause:  it’s so hot that you pant and don’t want to do much, other than maybe listen to that great tune by the same name by Leigh ‘Lil Queenie’ Harris on her album Polychrome Junction.  By now, all of you are thanking your stars that your A/C still works.  Up here in northeastern Illinois, we haven’t had that awful a summer, generally speaking – but we have had a few outrageous days in the high-90-degree range and one 100-degree day (ouch).  Today was another one of those scorchers; even cruising with the top down doesn’t make you feel better midday.  But in the evening … ahhh, what a difference!

Joe, Keith and I are looking forward to A/C and a road trip this coming Sunday, August 25th, for the next screening of our documentary film Remembering Jewish Lawndale, a spin-off project that resulted from all the research we did on that neighborhood for our upcoming Route 66 book.  The screening will be for the Jewish Genealogical Society and will be held at Beth Israel Synagogue, 3601 Dempster in Skokie.  We’ll have a short introduction at 1:30 p.m., show the film at 2 p.m., then do a Q&A session with Dr. Irving Cutler, one of the people interviewed in the film.

erwyn Route 66 Car Show on Ogden Avenue

Hey, Route 66 roadies:  The annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show along Ogden Avenue is coming up soon on September 7th this year – be there, or be square!  Photo courtesy of Berwyn DevCorp.

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Aerial fun on Route 66:  the EAA’s B-17 is returning to Romeoville!

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 thought we were kidding about that clear nose cone, didn't you?  Nope!  Photo copyright 2012 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.

You thought we were kidding about that clear B-17 nose, didn’t you?  Nope!  It comes complete with a Rita-Hayworth-style pinup.  Photo copyright 2012 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.

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Flying the Friendly Skies over Route 66

So you’ve always wanted to fly in a Word War II B-17 bomber, eh?  If you weren’t at Lewis University Airport over the recent Labor Day holiday, you missed your chance:  there were five flights flights a day over that three-day weekend, all hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Warbird Squadron 4.  A vintage Flying Fortress was there to take you on your dream flight if you had the approximately $400-$475 per person in spare change to pay for the flight.  The excursions were being offered as a way to raise money in order to help the EAA preserve this particular Boeing B-17 heavy bomber and others like it.  The background on this can be found in our earlier article here.

Aluminum Overcast B-17, owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association (photo by J.D. Kubal)

If you’ve never been to Lewis University Airport in Romeoville, it’s a handy little thing accessed from Renwick Road about a mile or so west of IL 53/Historic Route 66.  Lewis has had an airport there for decades, given that the school focused on aviation science and technology since its earliest days as a secondary school for boys.  Its aviation department today is famous across the country and still going strong, unlike the one that closed within the last year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  And there’s nothing like watching an air show at a airport that size. Continue reading