The Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) announced today that three national avionics providers are set to equip a WWII-era aircraft with the most sophisticated communications technology available on the market. Becker Avionics, Avidyne Corporation, and Force Aviation are working with the CAF to upgrade the cockpit of an iconic B-17 Flying Fortress, named Texas Raiders, which resides at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport. The aircraft, which began life outfitted with vacuum-tube radios that filled a forty square foot compartment, now navigates and communicates via three solid-state boxes that measure only inches on each side.
The new Bluetooth enabled technology will make it safer and easier for the aircrew to navigate and communicate while operating the vintage aircraft. It will also offer those riding in the aircraft an enhanced warbird experience that includes listening to flight crew while in the air during a Living History Flight Experience. Texas Raiders’ crew is currently training on the state-of-the-art equipment that was generously provided by Becker Avionics and Avidyne Corporation with installation support provided by Force Aviation.
The vintage heavy bomber will be deploying its new avionics array as the 2021 flying season begins this month, with the aircraft set to visit a half-dozen cities across the U.S. starting April 3 in Conroe, Texas. Prior to that, aviation media representatives will get an advance look at the sophisticated gear at a media event at the CAF Headquarters located at Dallas Executive Airport on March 27.
The U.S. built 12,731 B-17s, and today only five are actively flying. Texas Raiders was the first B-17 acquired solely for the purpose of education and use as a flying museum and has appeared as a feature attraction at airshows, barnstorming stops, and civic events for over fifty years. The volunteer crews who operate the aircraft provide the public an opportunity to put their hands on history, and keep alive the memory of those who built, flew, and maintained the iconic bombers during World War II. Learn more about the aircraft and follow the activities of the Gulf Coast Wing at www.B17TexasRaiders.org or by following on Facebook @B-17TexasRaiders and Instagram @B17TexasRaiders.