Paul Workman worries that this old war bird’s time may be running out.
As mechanic and flight engineer for the B-17 Flying Fortress, he knows what it means when the fuselage of the World War II bomber creaks and whines as it taxis the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport's runway.
“We honestly don’t know how long we’re going to be able to do this—given the cost, given the changing the regulations,” he said during a recent visit.
Designed by Boeing for the U.S. Army, the B-17 was the flagship bomber of WWII in the European theater.
There were 12,731 produced, and the Aluminum Overcast, owned by the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA), is one of them. The owners say it’s one of only 13 that are still flying.
The Overcast was delivered in 1945, but it never saw combat. Instead this flying fortress carried cattle and fought fire ants. Then, aviation buffs got a hold of it and restored it to its World War II-era prime.
And this weekend, anyone can tour or take a ride of the B-17 are available at the St. Pete-Clearwater Airport, and next week in Sarasota. Ground tours, which allow people to tour the airplane’s interior and exterior, are around $10.
A flight, which lasts about 20 minutes, will set you back about $409 to $475 depending on when you book your flight and if you have a membership with the EAA. For more scheduling information, visit the EAA's website.