A little bit of World War II history flew into St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia on Monday.
The Experimental Aircraft Association's B-17G-VE, Aluminum Overcast, touched down to spend a couple of days on display and give rides to paying customers.
Despite my affinity for air sickness, I rode along on a media flight. Luckily it was a short trip.
The airplane was delivered in May 1945 but never saw action. It was sold as surplus in 1946 for $750.
After many years as a cargo carrier, aerial mapping platform, pest control plane, it came to the EAA in 1983.
The plane has been meticulously restored and painted in the colors of the 398th Bomb Group, famous for flying thousands of missions in Europe in World War II.
Charles Woodford, 90, of Belleville, who was a tail gunner in a B-17 during the war, got to ride along again. He said it was a lot nicer with no one shooting at him, which is how he earned his Purple Heart in World War II.
"I forgot how noisy it was and how bumpy," he said after the flight.
It was a bumpy ride, both when we taxied to the runway and in the air. The large plane, nearly the same color as the gray sky, vibrated constantly with the thunder that came from the four large propellor engines.
Still, said some of the enthusiasts hanging around to watch the plane, this later model was comfortable compared to some of the earlier versions.
Robert R. Morrissette, 91, of Rochester N.Y., who was in Chesterfield, Mo. visiting family, heard about the plane and came to ride.
As a corporal in England during World War II, he repaired radios on bombers. He said he flew occasionally but not on bombing missions.
"I stayed on the ground. That's why I'm still here," he said.
The EAA is offering half hour rides on the plane from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday at St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia and Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, Mo.
The cost is $435 for EAA members and $475 for non-members. You can purchase tickets at the plane, which will be parked outside the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum at 2300 Vector Drive on the north side of the airport.
There also are walking tours available from 2-5 p.m. both days, weather permitting. To see the aircraft inside and out, costs $10 per person or $20 per family.
The walking tours are free for veterans and military personnel.
Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: email@example.com