Whitesburg KY

My first bomber flight

I will never forget that day as long as I live. March 18,1946, I was assigned to Scott Air Field, Belleville, Ill., for radio operator school. My name came up on the board in our barracks to report to the flight line.

I would make my first flight on a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.

Here I am, less than a month out of basic training, just turned 16 years old, getting on the biggest airplane I ever saw.

The night before, when I could not sleep, I read some about the B-17 bomber. The first B-17 Flying Fortress group was sent to Royal Air Force, Polebrook on July 31, 1942. Their first mission was August 17, 1942. I read that this bomber had an outstanding record during World War II.

As I climbed aboard, I hoped the others could not see how scared I was. I was shaking like a leaf.

When the four big engines started, one at a time, from where I sat I could feel every turn of those R1820-92 blades.

After I put my radio gear on, I felt much better. We took off, flew about three hours and returned. I talked to the base and other planes during that time, When we landed, it took me a short time to get my feet moving. Each flight after my first one, it took time to get used to.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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