OT: Attention WWII History & Aviation Junkies

Submitted by 919 Brown on July 31st, 2010 at 10:19 AM

The Air Zoo in Portage made the announcement Monday that a WWII era B-17 Flying Fortress would be making a stopover for tours and rides. The tours are cheap, but the rides are pricey. Man, would that be great to go up in one of these.

Extra bonus WWII History junkie stuff. They'll have a B-25 stopping over today for tours and rides as well.

This is especially cool:

The visit is being coordinated with the Great Lakes Burn Camp, which is staging a motorcycle rally and will bring a few youngsters from the burn camp to the Air Zoo for a ride on the vintage aircraft.

I will be checking to see if polar bears are piloting these things.



July 31st, 2010 at 10:30 AM ^

The "Thunder Over Michigan" air show at Willow Run Airport in Romulus had every flying B-17 and B-24 in the world show up. Something like a dozen B-17s and 3 B-24s, (after the thousands built, its pretty sad that so few remain). Rides were offered at about $400 for 20 min or so. My uncle was a bombardier on a B-24 in WWII, so that would have been my choice.

It was an awesome event. The finale was a formation fly-over of all the B-17s. The sound was impressive. One can imagine being a German in WWII and hearing that ... You knew you were about to have one very, very bad day.

As it happens, I've seen the Yankee Air Force's B-17 fly over Novi periodically. It always makes me stop and look.


July 31st, 2010 at 10:43 AM ^

I've never seen a Spitfire up close and personal, but I've heard a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine on many P-51s, (another damn fine airplane, if I do say so my damn self). Its sound suggests raw power waiting to be unleashed, but its silky smooth. Like a tiger in silk pajamas.

When I was an Aero student, I learned about elliptical wing planforms. They're not the most efficient shape, but elliptical wings are one of the few for which the lift can be calculated using fairly simple equations, (i.e. the rotating cylinder). When the Spitfire was designed in the 1930s, the elliptical wing was probably selected for just that reason. That it was also elegant was a happy bonus.


July 31st, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

I was in Israel and went to their air force museum and saw some of their airworthy spitfires.  

If I recall correctly (also an Aero student) the Spitfire has an elliptical lift distribution (different than the shape of the wing).

Blue Ninja

July 31st, 2010 at 11:47 AM ^

No rides, but living in Cincy puts me close to Dayton and the Wright-Patterson AFB with its awesome museum. They have just about every military plane ever made in there. Word of advice, leave wives and young children as they tend to get bored and thus shorten your joyous moment in air force glory.

Sgt. Wolverine

July 31st, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

I've been to the U.S. Air Force Museum at WPAFB a couple times, and it's fantastic.  You can't fully enjoy the entire musem in one day.  Best of all: it's free.

On my previous visit to the museum, I finally got back to the presidential hangar to see the old presidential planes.  There's some great history there, too.

Blue Durham

July 31st, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

Base that was really interesting.  Had a neat air show, including fly bys of the Warthog and a B-52.  They also had a bunch of planes that were on the ground for people to look at, including a B-17 and, I think, a B-25 Mitchell.

But I what I really remember from that show was they had a couple of WWII fighters, one of which was a Me-109.  I could not believe how small that plane was.


July 31st, 2010 at 12:08 PM ^

various air shows each year namely Keesler AFB in Mississippi and the Blue Angles in Florida.  But the best WWII exhibit Iv'e ever attended was the WWII Museum in New Orleans.  I enjoy all of the WWII exhibits much more than the modern stuff.  I'ts a lot of great real history and an excellent family outing.  


July 31st, 2010 at 12:44 PM ^

Fabulous. If I could figure out how to embed a photo in a post here, I'd put up a photo of the B-58 they've got on display. What a freaking awesome plane that is. I recommend that place to anybody who loves military aviation of all sorts.

They've also got an SR-71 and a B-2, although I seem to remember a sign saying the B-2 was actually a pre-flight static mockup, not an air-worthy craft. I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference myself anyhow. The Blackbird was just amazing.


July 31st, 2010 at 12:58 PM ^

to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, make the trip to the west side of the state. The facility is new and gives a start to current avaition history in a family centered way. The other muesum buildings are dedicated to ww2, the space program and the cold war.

It's focused on naval avaition but the collection of aircraft and items is fantastic. Bring the kids its free to get in the new building is more of a theme park with pay rides for little ones and they have 4 naval flight simulators for us adults, kid play room, dining area, special displays, space shuttle mission and a B-17 3-d show that you should visit twice. It made my WW 2 8th AF great uncle tear up and well, you get the rest.  The restoration center isn't open to the public but ask about tours, sometimes they do it. It takes a day to see it all. Then head out Fricano's pizza in Alamo or Coney Island downtown for dinner.  


Disclaimer, I lived in Kazoo and worked at Fricano's and was a member of the Air zoo.