In May my best buddy from childhood and I are both going to turn 60, so we decided we should do something really memorable, and really fun. We are going to Seattle in the last week in May to ride on a real WWII B-17 Bomber, the Aluminum Overcast. I haven't done anything really fun for a long long time and I'm about ready to bust with exitement! About the only thing that could make it better is if we were up there and a couple of ME-109's came out of the sun. :rolleyes:


How fantastic!!!! So happy for you and of course a little envious! :kermit:


Well I'm afraid I can't help with the ME-109 fly-ins, but that would throw in a bit of added excitement. :clappin:


I wish I could do something like this for my husband. That would be a grand birthday present for him at the end of May too.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

Thanks M1,

I made our reservations today and paid for the tickets. I gotta tell ya...I'm exited like a little kid on Christmas morning. Our flight will take off on May 24th at 10:15 AM. I have not flown on an airplane of any kind since 1977, when I was still a young punk of 24. That's pretty sad given the fact that I worked for Boeing for many years....I have fabricated, straightened, buffed and/ or polished more aircraft skins than I can even remember but the planes were all on the ground! :huh: I am going to send you a link to the website so you can see if they will be in a city near you this Summer. I think you should give Lee that gift and go with him. They will be in Washington state from the last week in May until the first week in June, but you will have the Tour schedule as soon as I send the link. Would you please PM me and let me know which of your email addy's to send the link to?


I read your post to Lee. I said I should do the same for him. He replied, "Sounds good to me!"


Thanks in advance for the tour schedule, buddy.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

Thanks for the email. If anyone else is interested:



Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

Six days to go...I have been making plans and trying to think of the best way to capture the experience on film. At first I was set to bring a camcorder so I could also record the sound of those 4 engines at start up...then I thought it would be best just to take my digital camera and make enjoying the experience my first priority rather than trying to make a documentary out of it. The actual time in the air is only 24 minutes and I hope to visit every station & gun position in that time, including the Ball Turret Gunner's if I can bend my arthritic 60 year old knees into proper position. Two items I won't forget are Dramamine and an air-sick bag, just in case. I'm going to wear my Dad's WWII USN jacket as I know he would have loved to do this. I am also carrying a photo of Max's little boy Ilya in a pocket. He is just 9 years old, but already a savy student of WWII History, not only Ukraine history but USA participation too. He is a huge fan of the late Dick Winters.

I still have one worry that there will not be the required minimum of six guests on our scheduled flight, which would mean a postponement and/or cancellation, but that's out of my hands. My fingers are crossed!


Okay, Marion speaking. Everyone better be there that day so my buddy can fly the friendly skies (well there are no ME-109's). You hear me??????


:1032: :1032:

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

I am back from one very memorable experience. We were the fist two passengers that showed up at Boeing field which allowed my buddy and I to listen to the two WWII B17 members who were there to share their stories. The taller man is Eldon Lawson of the 305th Heavy Bombardment Squadron, US 8th Army Airforce stationed in England. He was a B-17 Pilot with 30 missions. The shorter man is Lt. Col. Kenneth Wheeler, 353rd Bomb Squadron, 301rst Bomber Group, 5th Wing, 15th USAAF- Italy. His B-17 was shot down over Croatia and he had to bail out. His chute got hung up in a tree, but eventually another member of the crew came along and helped him down. They were rescued by Tito Partisans. Ken was an "evadee" (as he called it) for 36 days before being returned to Italy. He was a Navigator and flew 35 missions in WWII. He retired as a Lt. Col. after 28 years of service. He had some great stories!

I took over 80 pictures that day but I'll share just a few right now. One of the most memorable parts of the trip for me was the sound of those 4 engines fully revved up just before we took off...It was ear-splitting LOUD! My buddy Tom used his phone to record it on video but I haven't had a chance to view that yet. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.

Hope you are all having a good Memorial Day weekend!




ps- Pilot Lawson was kind enough to autograph a WWII Cloth Summer Flyer's Helmet for me!











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Lee and I just read your post together and viewed the photos. We are so happy you finally got to do this. I can imagine the thrill expressed on your face and in your heart. Also what an honor to meet two B-17 crew members. How wonderful to be able to share this experience with them.


Can't wait to see more and to HEAR more.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

The B-17 flight itself was great, but not as great as having the honor of talking with Capt. Lawson and Lt. Wheeler...two real Heros of the Air War over Germany and Italy. As soon as I was inside and the engines were warming up I closed my eyes for a minute and tried to imagine what it was like to be a 19 year old waist gunner, wondering if this mission would be "my last."( I would later ask the two B-17 Vets about this and both of them told me the same thing...that they were focused only on the mission and hitting the target.

One thing you notice immediately when you are sitting in a B-17 is how thin the aluminum skin on the fuselage is. Flak or MG bullets passed through it like a hot knife through butter. The Vets explained to me the reason for this was to allow them to carry the maximum bomb load, which was normally twelve 500 lb. anti-personell bombs or sometimes the WWII version of a "Bunker


Lt. Wheeler took part in the bombing of Monte Cassino and also the unfortunate bombing of Allied soldiers on the front line in Italy which resulted in over 100 deaths and many times that number wounded. (I had not planned on mentioning that or asking questions about it out of respect for all who were involved in this terrible accident.) Both of them stated that they worried more about Flak than they did the Luftwaffe. They both mentioned being under orders not to bomb the concentration camps or any other areas where there were high numbers of civilians. (This would change in the latter part of the war.) I did ask Capt. Lawson if he ever encountered the Nazi's ME-262 jet fighters and he said he had seen them but didn't consider them as dangerous as the German 88's that filled the sky with Flak. Both men had high praise for the "Red Tails" that protected the bombers with their P-51 Mustangs and mentioned them several times.

I apologize for the unusually long post. It's very hard for me to condense the experience. I have posted more pictures below. Rather than describing each photo for you I will be happy to explain any of them if you wish, starting with the top row and going left to right. Please note the picture in row 3 first image. I took this one sitting down and looking directly above me. Notice the thin (about .25 inches) cables running horizonatlly...we watched them moving whenever the pilot was operating the wing and tail flaps...pretty darn primitive by today's standards!! In the same row, 4th image..this was taken with my head and shoulders sticking out of the OPEN top gun turret. That's the first time I've ever been able to do that! The last thing I need to mention is what a huge amount of courage it took for all the B-17 Pilots and Crew to crawl back into that airplane day after day. We owe them so very much for their courage and commitment...


















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