Monday, April 05, 2010

Big plane

"Visitors check out Liberty Foundation's B-17 at the Salt Lake Jet Center FBO, Monday, March 29, 2010. The public can buy 30-minute rides in the plane. During the flight one can actually visit the cockpit, glass nose and all other crew positions to get a feel for what this historic aircraft was like during the war."

When I was told I’d be going into an airplane on assignment on Monday I was excited. Whenever I get a chance to see the community I live in from a different angle, a vantage I rarely see from, it’s a real treat.

What I didn’t know until Monday morning was that the aircraft was a 65-year-old World War II B-17, other wise known as, the Liberty Bell.

This historic, four prop engine “protect or destroy” aircraft was simply amazing. Seeing it from the outside I was intimidated and couldn’t get over the massive size.

From the painting, graphic on the outside underneath the cockpit, to the guns peering out the windows, it was astonishing to think of the history of these aircrafts.

While the Liberty Bell never served any missions during war, more than twelve-thousand B-17 airplanes flew thousands of missions during World War II.

Once inside, I got a chance actually visit the cockpit, glass nose, as well as, all crew positions to really get a feel for what this historic aircraft was like during the war.

Sitting at the glass nose and peering out the “sunroof” is something I’ll never forget.

I’ve been in many aircrafts in my life, but nothing like sitting beneath the pilots with a clear 180-degree view of what was in front of us. In addition, I’ve never been in an airplane where I could stick my head out into 150 mph winds from a “sunroof” cut in the top of the plane - Simply mesmerizing.

While my initial thoughts were that the plane was enormous from the outside, the inside was anything but that. It was small, loud and uncomfortable. It quickly became apparent that this aircraft was not manufactured to be luxurious. It had a mission to be served.

What an awesome flight.


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