A restored B-17 bomber will visit Santa Barbara from April 23 to 25 during a 60-city “Salute to Veterans” national tour.  It’s one of two Flying Fortresses scheduled to land on the Central Coast this spring. The other will arrive in Santa Maria in May.

During its Santa Barbara visit, “Aluminum Overcast,” the Experimental Aircraft Association’s restored B-17 bomber, will offer flights and interior tours for a price. The plane will be at the Santa Barbara Airport south of Hangar 1, junction of Arnold Place and Cook Place.

Self-guided tours cost $5 per person or $15 per family (meaning adults and children up to 17 years old and including immediate family members only). Children under 8 years old can tour for free when accompanied by paying adult.  All active-duty military members and veterans also will be admitted for free.

A minimum of six people is required per flight. Pre-booked flights cost $359 for EAA members and $399 (includes a free one-year EAA membership) for non-members. To schedule a flight, go to www.b17.org or call toll-free 800-359-6217.  Rides booked after the aircraft arrives in Santa Barbara will cost $385 for members and $425 for non-members.

Aluminum Overcast has made multiple trips to the Central Coast, including stops in Santa Maria in 2002.

“The national tour EAA undertakes each year has become the nation’s most popular way to learn about this unique aircraft in an up-close way,” said Tom Poberezny, EAA president. “EAA is dedicated to preserving the spirit of aviation through these B-17 tours. This year, we also take great pride in saluting all our nation’s veterans as the airplane makes its way throughout our country.”

Aluminum Overcast was built in 1945, but was delivered to the Army Air Corps too late to see active service in World War II. It was purchased as war surplus for $750 by a private individual, and served in mapping and spraying operations in many countries until a preservation group purchased it in 1978.

The B-17 was donated to the EAA Aviation Foundation in 1981 with the provision of the aircraft being maintained in airworthy condition. After being displayed at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis., for a decade, the airplane made its national tour debut in the spring of 1994.

For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-564-6322 or go to www.eaa.org.

This won’t be the only old warbird to visit the county this spring.  The Santa Maria Museum of Flight will host aircraft owned by The Collings Foundation, based in Massachusetts. The organization will bring a B-17 along with a B-24 Liberator and a P-51 Mustang to the Santa Maria Public Airport from May 17 to 19.  For more information about that visit, visit www.collingsfoundation.org or call the Santa Maria Museum of Flight at 922-8758.

 April 19, 2010