World War II Veterans Take Ride On B-17 Bomber

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CAHOKIA, IL (KTVI)-- They called it the 'flying fortress,' but most people know it as the B-17 bomber.

And one of the few still able to fly is in St. Louis to serve as the lead plane in the Fair St. Louis air show on July 4.

The plane is not a replica; it is a fully restored, fully functional B-17, named the 'Aluminum Overcast.'

"It`s like flying a cement truck without power steering most of the time but it is a beautiful airplane to fly," said co-pilot Ken Morris. "We love it."

There are only 13 B-17`s left that still can fly, and only two that are licensed to carry passengers. The Aluminum Overcast is one of them.

It was built in 1945, but delivered too late to see active service in World War II, which is part of the reason why it is still flying today.

When the plane visits a city, almost always a few World War II veterans get to take a ride.  On Monday Charles Woodford, who flew eleven missions in a B-17, was one of the passengers.

"Well, it was a lot quieter. I didn`t have anybody shooting at me so I didn`t have to worry about flak. But it was a lot noisier than what I remember, but that was 70 years ago," Woodford said.

Another veteran on the flight was Robert Morrissette of New York. He is 91 and has been in the St. Louis area visiting his daughter and son-in-law.

When they heard about the B-17 coming to St. Louis, they arranged to have him go for a ride.

During the war, Morrissette`s job was to repair the radios on B-17`s, but he never got to fly in one until now.

He sat next to the radio.

"Oh it was a nice thrill," Morrissette said.

His ride was complimentary, but if you want to go for a ride in the Aluminum Overcast, it will cost between $400 to $475 for a half hour flight.

If that`s too expensive, you can tour it on the ground at the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia until Wednesday, and then at Spirit Airport in Chesterfield through Sunday.

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