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Omaha Steve

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Member since: Tue Nov 9, 2004, 05:03 PM
Number of posts: 71,706

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I flew in a B-17 warbird yesterday, my great uncle died in one in the Pacific Theater Sept 24, 1942


For more info on these flights and more: http://www.collingsfoundation.org/


I haven't grabbed my phone pix yet. I've been so busy. Good thing I'm retired. My camera photos are in chronological order here: http://tinyurl.com/o7z7otk

I had no breakfast yesterday in case I might get airsick. This would be one exciting carnival ride.

There was a break in the weather after the last couple of days had been so hot and humid. It was 70 when I left the house.

While driving to the private plane side of Epply Airfield I looked to my left. It was just in time to see a Red-tailed Hawk (think Tuskegee Airmen) take flight from the top of the security fence. A good omen I thought to myself.

As I pulled into the parking lot I saw dozens of happy faces getting out of their cars and walking to the assembly area. After getting inside there was a room full of excited people, a souvenir table, and registration table. Through the glass I saw TWO vintage warbirds out on the flight line in pre-check and fuel mode. The excitement builds.






The check in table worked with color coded tags by plane and flight number. I was on the second flight of Nine O Nine. Two older Veteran's tried to buy a ticket, only to find out all the morning flights were sold out. They got tickets for the 5 PM fight. During the day there are tours through the planes.

The first flight taxied out. The smell of high octane and burning oil were in the air. Our group was assembled and given our pre-flight info. This included mentioning IF you stick your head in the air stream in the open radio gunner position (# 6 below) take off your glasses and hats. Hold on to your phone or cameras tightly.


http://www.b17bomber.de/eng/details/crew.php

Talk between the passengers drifted to what the crews of these planes had to endure while under fire and damaged.

The P-51 was now being towed out of the hanger. I mentioned former NU football All American Wayne Melan's P-51 was destroyed in his fatal crash in 1987.

All of a sudden there was some obvious radio traffic of concern between the crews on their handheld. The B-24 had developed a problem in flight an was returning ASAP. Below is the work that started immediately on the down engine. Nine O Nine is landing in the background.



We were going to board with the propellers running, so we got some more safety instructions. This photo shows the other passengers in my flight. Our instructor that doesn't make the flight is facing us from the left



Below is a passenger on my flight grabbing the overhead bar to load and unload from the plane.



I was the last to board and had the seat closest to the tail. After a little trouble with the seat belt (a vintage model, unlike a car) our flight engineer gave the pilot the thumbs up to taxi out.

We came to a stop. The engine started reving up for flight and we started that slow bumpy ride down the runway. Suddenly the sounds and "feel" indicated we were weightless. A couple bumps and we knew we were airbourne. Our flight engineer immediately gave us permission to unbuckle and wonder in the plane. A father and son in front of the bombay.



I took phone photos inside the plane. I stuck my head up in the air stream to take some camera photos. Remember that warning about cameras in the airstream? Yep. The strap blew off my neck and I almost lost the camera to the force of the wind. Marta would extremely upset if I had let go of her camera.

Our mock bomb run on the rail yard somewhere over Germany in the photo below.



As you can see in the photo the bomb racks are a tight fit. I decided with my bad neck and shoulders not to get injured wiggling my way through. So I didn't get to the navigators area at the front of the plane. My great uncle's (navigator 1st Lt. Leo M. Eminger) downed plane was located during the war: http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-17/41-2420.html

This was the point my mind drifted to family history. My cousin Leo that grew up next door to me was named after him. Meet my uncle (spitting image of my maternal grandfather) the navigator, 1st Lt. Leo M. Eminger (KIA).



About a 1/2 hour after takeoff we were headed in. Buckle back in and a flew bounces later we were on the ground. Everybody had huge smiles. The father in the photo asked his son if he had felt air sick at all. The son answered "no". I thanked him for not getting airsick. He smiled. I said back to him "well I pooped my pants". The rear end of the plane broke out in loud laughter. His dad told me "We're not going to thank you for that".

As we got out of the plane the passengers from the B-24 flight that got cut short lined up to ride in Nine O Nine too. I'm sure the cancelled flight was next.

I smelled of gas and oil till I got home and showered. A badge of courage maybe?

I went in to buy souvenirs. A hat, several T shirts for family members, and a 50 cal round notched into a bottle opener, and some clearance items were what I selected. You can buy online here: http://www.collingsfoundation.org/shop/



These flights and souvenirs help pay for maintenance to keep these historical treasures flying. It was worth every cent. And it got me out of Marta's hair for a couple hours.

I crossed one item off my bucket list. IF I'm healthy enough next year, Marta and I are in the early stages on planning to go to Normandy and London.

Omaha Steve ...Over and out!

Bernie in Council Bluffs, IA 7-3-15 photos


I have not had time to write up the event yet. I hope to do so tomorrow. I have over 1,000 personal emails that have piled up since Wednesday

Top photos are about 45 minutes to showtime. I'm sitting in the second row just to Bernie's right. These crowd photos are panning from my left to right. Look at all the young faces.

Several Bernie photos.

The last four photo Bernie gets treated like a rock star. The first of these photos is a member of the Sarpy County Democrats, but I don't remember her name. She got an autograph.

OS

https://flic.kr/s/aHskfx3BYm
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