Thursday, September 15, 2011

"WWII veterans brave one more flight in B-17 bomber"

"By Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel

"Kenosha - No one tried to kill Scott Welch on Thursday afternoon - no German Messerschmitts dived toward him with guns blazing, no anti-aircraft guns shot deadly flak his way, and there were no bombs to drop over enemy targets.

"Otherwise, it looked much the same as the Flying Fortresses Welch piloted over Europe.
Welch flew 32 combat missions in B-17 bombers in 1944 in the skies over France and Germany, including the D-Day invasion. He earned a Purple Heart when shrapnel tore into his plane, through his seat and into his backside, and a Distinguished Flying Cross for piloting his plane and crew back to safety while wounded.

"Until Thursday he had not flown in a Flying Fortress since he was a skinny 21-year-old kid. So he jumped at the chance to fly in a B-17 restored in the markings of the 398th Bomb Group.

"'It's very heavy on the controls. When you wanted to roll the wings, it took quite a bit of force,' Welch said before Thursday's flight at Kenosha Regional Airport. 'I weighed 135 pounds, and my shoulders looked like a wrestler.'

"Welch, 88, of Silver Lake, climbed into the EAA-owned B-17 Flying Fortress dubbed 'Aluminum Overcast' along with a few other World War II B-17 veterans for a quick flight over Lake Michigan. Also on the trip was Carl Nielsen, 89, of Racine, a B-17 navigator who was shot down over Wurzberg, Germany, on his 31st mission and was a prisoner of war for nine months.

"Asked if he was anxious to fly in the B-17 again, considering his last trip ended in a bailout over Nazi Germany, Nielsen smiled.

"'I got 800 hours already. Why should I be nervous about another 15 minutes?' said Nielsen, who proudly wore his red, white and blue Distinguished Flying Cross pin on his jacket."

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Anonymous said...

God Bless those guys. I have a picture of my dad at an Army reunion standing in the door in a jump position of the Army version of the DC-3 like he did many times years before. It brings a tear to my eye when I look at it.

hale-bopp said...

Occasionally you have those WWII planes open for rides around here. It is usually a few hundred dollars for a 30-60 minute flight. I have never done one, but think it would be fun...hey, maybe that's what I would do if I became a multi-millionaire, Drew!

Toad said...

GEEZ, I wish my Uncle Dick was still alive. He was living at the Veterans Home, and would have really enjoyed a ride In a B-17 again. He flew In one during WWII. He died last September.

OrbsCorbs said...

I thought it was great those guys got a chance for another flight. I salute them.