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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter - Off the Topic

"She was a Stradivarius of an airplane..."
Colonel Robert Morgan, pilot of the Memphis Belle

My next technical blog will be put off a day or two, since this was a busy Easter weekend for me.

But every once in a while I like to do something "off the page".  Plus, I got to experience something so exciting I can hardly contain myself.  :-)

Those who follow my blog know that I get a kick out of old airplanes, and that I volunteer at Planes of Fame in Chino, Ca. 

This weekend EAA sent their  B-17 Flying Fortress, named Aluminum Overcast to visit the museum, giving rides to visitors. 

Aluminum Overcast - A gorgeous example of a B-17 Flying Fortress
Seeing how myself, and most of us live our lives in technology, it always amazes, and inspires me to see how it was done 70 years ago.  No CAD software, not even a calculator.

With just drafting boards and slide rules, they produced a machine that borders on an art form.

Just imagine what those designers would say if they saw the tools we have today.

I got to experience the process of "pulling the props", the process by which the engines are checked to make sure that any oil that collects in the lower cylinders is clear before startup. 

That was a lot of work.  It's not nearly as easy as it looks.

Then, I got to stand next to this magnificent machine, watch it start up, and take off.  Simply amazing to see this 70 year old machine start up and do what she was intended to do.

It's an amazing tribute to those who designed it, without having tools we take for granted today, then for those brave souls who flew it.

So to share the experience, here's the video of the startup and taxi.  It was exciting to be so close I could touch it.

Seeing it is an amazing tribute to those who designed, built, and ultimately flew these incredible machines into combat. 

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