This is about a B-17 “Memorial” build in memory of all the Army Air Force men who served and died in World War II. It is build for them, by volunteers, in Urbana, Ohio.
This is the first of a series of articles we will document about our experience in building a B-17G airplane. The planning for the project got its start in 2005.
The actual work started on Jan. 4th, 2006.
Visitors are under impression that we are restoring a B-17. The project in 2006 was considered a restoration but it was discovered some time later that we might as well start all over and make new parts. Damaged and corroded parts don’t make an airworthy airplane.
The airplane is built from a very large number of original Boeing Aircraft Company drawings. These drawings were generated and updated in the period 1941-1945.
We have to adhere to these drawings to get an airworthiness certificate and fly this machine for many years.
It is basically a new airplane with (4) overhauled (like new) engines.
Visitors to our B-17 project ask often why don’t you get parts from the bone yards in Arizona or California. If there were any …….. we probably would.
There are no old B-17 frames or sections offered for sale. There are none in bone yards.
May be there is one in New Guinea like the Swamp Ghost.
Old B-17 sections or old parts might be available from private sources but at very high price levels.
Most of these parts are 70+ years old and may not be in good condition.
The approximately (10) B-17 aircraft which are still airworthy and fly are built in 1944-1945 are carefully maintained but some show their age.
The oxidation process of the 70 year old aircraft’s aluminum is unfortunately ongoing.
To start a B-17 restoration/construction project you have to have a dream, a very large building, lots of tools and plenty of money.
We all know there is a huge difference between a static display in a museum and an airplane which will fly for a number of years.
Accuracy and compliance with large airplane standards have to be adhered to, to fly such an aircraft.
At some time a restored/constructed airplane has be presented to the FAA and a certificate of Airworthiness has to be obtained.
During the construction a Builders Log has to be maintained by a highly competent certified A&P. A person who has experience rebuilding large aircraft. A person like that does not come cheap, that is, if you can find one.
How did the project start?
In the fall of 2005 a successful business man, Jerry Shiffer had such a dream. He wanted to restore a B-17 and use the project to teach young people vocational skills.
The project got started as follows;
Early In the summer of 2005 Jerry Shiffer got a ride in a B-17 , the “Liberty Bell”, taking off from Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio.
During the summer of 2005 the Liberty Bell had to stay for a while at the Urbana airport for repairs and maintenance. This drew a lot of attention from the public.
During the stay of the airplane in Urbana there was a lot of assistance given by the locals to the B-17 maintenance crew. It showed there was a lot of interest from the community. This was noticed and appreciated by the Liberty Bell maintenance crew.
3 months after the airplane was flown back to its home base the airport manager in Urbana got a call from Reilly Aviation about the availability of sections of old B-17 aircraft that could be used as a community project. Was there an interest in Urbana? Jerry Shiffer had an interest and with the cooperation of his family he decided to purchase the sections in the fall of 2005.