Have you ever toured a WWII B-17? Climbed the ladder up through the front hatch near the nose? (No, that ladder wasn’t original standard equipment). Looked to your left into the nose where the bombardier and navigator sat? Crawled up through the cockpit and top turret area? Crossed the catwalk over the bomb bays? Walked through the radio room, circled the ball turret, and strode past the waist guns to peer back into the tail before exiting through the waist door down a shorter ladder? (No, not original standard equipment either).
How about going for a flight in one? There are a few touring B-17’s in the United States that travel to from city to city offering both walk-through tours and flights. I have walked through both the Nine O Nine and the Aluminum Overcast. I have flown in the Nine O Nine. Though the flight was only a half hour long, it was probably the most exciting half hour of my life. I can’t seem to get enough of the B-17 and anytime one is in the vicinity of central Florida, I’ll go to see it. And I think that even though the flights in one are very expensive, I think I’ll have to do that again one day, too.
The Collings Foundation
The Collings Foundation’s B-17 is the Nine O Nine. You can check the Collings Foundation’s touring schedule here.
In addition to the B-17G Flying Fortress Nine O Nine, the Collings Foundation show tours include a Consolidated B-24J Liberator, Witchcraft, a B-25, and a TF-51D (P51) Mustang. The B-17, B-24, and B-25 flight experiences are each a half hour. The P-51 Mustang can be reserved for either a half or full hour of flight instruction. If you are considering a flight experience, check here for more information and pricing.
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
The EAA’s B-17 is the Aluminum Overcast. You can check the EAA’s touring schedule and pricing here.
The B-17 flight experience lasts approximately one hour, with twenty-four minutes in the air. If you are considering a flight experience, check here for more information.
In addition to the B-17 Aluminum Overcast, the EAA also tours with a Ford Tri-Motor, the Tin Goose, however it has a different schedule of tour stops. To view the Tri-Motor tour stops, check here.
The Liberty Foundation
The Liberty Foundation’s B-17 is the Madras Maiden. You can check the Liberty Foundation’s touring schedule and pricing here.
The Liberty Foundation’s flight experience lasts approximately 45 minutes, with fifteen minutes in history briefings and a half hour in the air.
Commemorative Air Force, Gulf Coast Wing (GCWCAF)
The GCWCAF’s B-17 is Texas Raiders. You can check the GCWCAF’s touring schedule here.
The flight experience is approximately ninety minutes and includes approximately twenty-five to thirty minutes in the air. If you are considering a flight experience, check here for more information and pricing.
Commemorative Air Force, Airbase Arizona
The Arizona Commemorative Air Force’s B-17 is Sentimental Journey. You can check their summer touring schedule here. At other times of year, rides occur out of their museum in Mesa, Arizona.
The flight experience is approximately forty to forty-five minutes and includes approximately twenty to twenty-five minutes in the air. If you are considering a flight experience, more information and pricing are included on the same web page, but additional pricing for sitting in the nose is displayed upon selecting to book a seat.
See the Flight Info and Schedule page and Flight FAQ page for more information.
Yankee Air Museum
The Yankee Air Museum’s B-17 is Yankee Lady. The Yankee Lady’s touring schedule is posted here.
In addition to the B-17 Flying Fortress Yankee Lady, the Yankee Air Museum show tours include a B-25, Yankee Warrior, a C-47, Skytrain, and a Waco Biplane. Flight time in the B-17 and B-25 is 25 minutes from departure to arrival, and the C-47 and Waco Biplane flights last 15 minutes. If you are considering a flight experience, check here for more information and pricing.
Other Surviving B-17s
There are more surviving B-17’s in the world, but I believe the ones on the above list are the only ones that schedule tour stops around the United States. Please contact me if you know of another one I should add to this list.
For a list of surviving B-17’s, including those that are air worthy and those that are not, please Wikipedia’s list here. It includes other B-17’s that you can tour at their home museums in the United States that do not go on tour around the country.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017