Step Inside the Last of the B-17s

June 18 2014, 3:45 PM

XO

I never thought I’d find myself sitting at the radio desk in the third compartment of a Boeing B-17 plane. The bombers, largely used in World War II, are now nearly extinct. As it marched down the runway, four propellers jostled the 79-year-old aircraft—but takeoff was surprisingly less turbulent than most I’ve experienced in commercial jets. The vessel, nicknamed the "Aluminum Overcast" because that's what a fleet of B-17s blanketing the sky looked like in the 1940s, is one of 16 working planes left.

From Thursday through Sunday, you can explore the B-17 yourself. And if your little ones have recently seen Pixar's Planes, they’ll enjoy seeing the real thing, too. Step into the 65,000-pound "Flying Fortress," and take your spot at one of the gunner posts, sit behind in the cockpit, and duck beneath to the bombardier (the bomb-dropper's) seat in the nose of the plane. If you decide you must go for a ride, you can, but it'll cost you between $409 and $475 for a spin. 

The Experimental Aircraft Association's B-17 ground tours will be held June 19 to 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. Kids under eight years old and veterans are free. The Wings Over the Rockies is also hosting the Hangar Dance on Saturday, so dress up in your finest 1940s attire and dance to tunes from the Andrews Sisters and the Big Band inspiration of Cab Calloway. 

Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.