B-17 landing serves as a flying reminder of freedom

Fireworks weren’t the only tribute to American freedom in the skies above our area this weekend.

The B-17 bomber nicknamed the ‘Aluminum Overcast’ has been stationed at the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport since Friday, and it has flown over 1-million miles since being delivered to the US Army Air Corp in 1945.

The ‘Aluminum  Overcast’ may be over 70 years old, but Chuck Hoeppner says she still flies like new.

"She will fight you and then all of a sudden it will move just a little bit and then it's a breeze," said Hoeppner.

However 93-year-old World War II pilot Evert Atkinson says in his era flying a B-17 was anything but smooth sailing.

"Every day when those crew members went out to that B-17 and threw their parachute in for another mission, and they knew where they were going, but they sure didn't know if they were coming back," said Atkinson.

While many of you were grilling out this Independence Day, Atkinson took flight in the B-17 and shared his experience with people a fraction of his age.

"You had no control of the sound, the vibration, and you're simply sitting there as a crew member wondering what's going to happen next," said Atkinson.

"They lost more airmen in the skies over Europe than all of the Marine Corp did in the Pacific,” said Hoeppner.  “If you don't listen to history you're bound to repeat it."

By using donations collected along their way kids are able to get a further grasp of history by flying planes like the B-17 themselves at the Experimental Aircraft Association in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin.

The ‘Aluminum Overcast’ is scheduled to leave the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport on Monday around 10:00 AM.

The public is invited to come out and celebrate the sendoff of this piece of American History. 

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