B-17 an Oshkosh favorite - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

B-17 an Oshkosh favorite


MADISON (WKOW) -- Like veterans of world war two, the aircraft from the greatest war are becoming quite rare.

Any time the two get together, it's a special moment.

One between two warriors who helped change the course of history.

"My ninth mission was D-Day," says Lloyd Kreuger "and I was made of lead."

Kreuger was a navigator on a number of B-17s in WWII.

He's got some crazy stories of fighter planes and flak that took their best shot.

"I got hit in the boot but it didn't draw blood, but it ripped a hole I could put my fist through and knocked my leg out from under me and my pants leg was full of splinters from the only plywood on the plane which was in the floor by the navigator."

The B-17 was armed to the teeth. It bristled with 13 guns around the fuselage earning it the nickname the flying fortress. But because of its long range, its own fighters couldn't keep up, and on it's own, all these guns were no match for a German fighter.

Kreuger remembers trying to shoot at a fighter, but it was impossible to follow.

"At that moment, I knew I was on my own," he says "and from that moment on, I never fired my guns again because they were worthless.

Somehow, through it all, he survived to take a flight 60 years later on the Aluminum Overcast.

It never saw action but it's a flying museum to remind people of the sacrifice of all those air crews that didn't come home.

Its current pilot is Michael Hastings, who's met all sorts of veterans and says he can imagine what it was like.

"We're standing here in 70 degree weather, what you have to do is picture negative 50 degrees, and if you took your glove off and touched metal it'd be frostbitten, and if you took your mask off you'd pass out in seconds from lack of oxygen. Everything's frozen, everything's cold, you can barely breath, there's turbulence flack fighters coming at you.

Because it flies all over the US, this plane is a fan favorite at Oshkosh every year, and will continue to fly for as long as it can before retiring to the EAA museum where it will occupy a place of honor among the greatest planes to every fly.

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