Make your home page

B-17 bomber creates historic reunion

AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) – A rare, B-17 bomber wasn’t the only piece of history to land at the DeKalb County Airport Monday morning.

Everett Smiley traveled from Kokomo to see the aircraft.  The spry, 91-year-old climbed into the B-17 for the first time since piloting one in World War II.

As the distinct hum of the B-17 took off over Auburn, the experience brought back memories of Smiley’s 51 missions over southern Europe.

“The worst ones – we hated to go over them, we went over them five times – was Vienna, Austria,” Smiley explained while wearing his original Army Air Corps uniform. “They had 325 guns around there. 105’s and 88’s. And you knew you were getting shot at. Flak was everywhere and generally you had a lot of holes in the airplane. One time I had two engines knocked out. So I came back with two engines.”

Robert Tobey, 92, also traveled to Auburn to fly inside the B-17. He piloted four missions in a B-17 bomber during World War II.

The reunion flight was very different than their last flight in a B-17. Instead of fighting for freedom, this time, it focused on remembering their sacrifice.

“[It’s] been 70 years ago and I didn’t figure I’d ever get back in a B-17 seat,” Smiley said while sitting in the cockpit. “But it’s exciting. I have a lot a memories from it – good and bad. You can’t have all good during the war you know.”

Anyone has a chance to fly inside the B-17 bomber, named the “Aluminum Overcast”, Tuesday. Organizers with the Experimental Aircraft Association said it costs $475 for a 30 minute flight. The price reflects the high cost to operate and maintain the older aircraft. Flights will run between around 9 a.m. and noon. To book a flight, call (920) 371-2244.

For $10, anyone can look around inside the B-17 Tuesday afternoon at the DeKalb County Airport.

Anyone who simply wants to see it can come to the airport anytime during the day.