Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

WWII Planes Take Wing ; Pilots Take Historic Aircraft into Wild Blue Yonder Again

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

WWII Planes Take Wing ; Pilots Take Historic Aircraft into Wild Blue Yonder Again

Article excerpt

KANKAKEE, Ill. - Despite its reputation as one of the sturdiest and most resilient aircraft of World War II, a "Flying Fortress" was no match Friday for a parked aircraft at the Greater Kankakee Airport. The 103-foot-wide B-17 bomber was taxiing when its wing struck the propeller of another plane, impaling the wing. Members of the Collings Foundation, which owns the B-17, grounded the aircraft out of concern for passengers' safety.

Before it was damaged, World War II veteran Lt. Maurice Boultinghouse was to fly the foundation's B-17 on one last mission - to Evansville where the bomber was to be on display this weekend with two other World War IIera planes, a B-24 bomber and a P-51 fighter.

Tri-State Aero will be host to the display 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday. Adult tickets are $12 and children's $6. Rides on the vintage planes will be available for an additional fee.

Although the B-17 was grounded, Boultinghouse and three other veterans Friday flew to Evansville aboard the event's remaining B- 24 bomber. The damaged wing of the B-17 is expected to be repaired today and the plane flown to Evansville by late afternoon.

One of the attractions of the weekend event is the planes would be piloted by World War II veterans who flew similar aircraft during the war.

Boultinghouse flew 13 missions in B-17s during World War II. He said the bombers would fly riddled with holes from anti-aircraft fire.

"If flak (anti-aircraft fire) hit your wing and went through, it looked like a can of beans blowing up," Boultinghouse said. "It was tough, but we managed."

About 100 people watched from the terminal of the Kankakee airport as with a smoky cough, the B-24's four engines roared to life. Just as large as the B-17 - slightly smaller than a commercial jet - it lurched forward to a slow taxi across the ramp.

For the first time since 1945, the four veterans were on board an aircraft used to fight history's largest war. One of the veterans, Capt. Walter Sutton, flew 400 hours on 43 missions in B-24s. He said he was excited to go up one last time in a plane he said he loved.

But it was unclear who loved the B-24 more, Sutton, or Master Sgt. …

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