The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Aluminum Overcast (44-85740) is finally on its way back to its winter home in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, albeit, not under its own power sadly. The aircraft has been stranded in Punta Gorda, Florida since April 2021 following the discovery of a problem with one of its wing-attachment points (as noted in a previous article HERE).
A routine pre-flight examination revealed cracks in the sheer web on the left wing’s secondary spar. While the problem is relatively easy repair, it is impossible to do so without detaching the wing from the fuselage. Once they removed the wing, the maintenance team discovered additional details that needed addressing, compounding the aircraft’s dilemma. But Aluminum Overcast dodged serious calamity last September when Hurricane Ian struck Punta Gorda, causing considerable damage to the B-17’s hangar. Thankfully the beleaguered bomber only suffered minor damage in the process, but it’s hangar incurred far worse. When a string of tornadoes passed nearby the airport a short time later, the EAA decided not to chance another hurricane season in Florida and chose to truck the B-17 back home to Oshkosh for the final repairs.
As Jeff Toline, EAA’s director of aircraft operations and maintenance, noted in a recent press release: “The EAA teams, our dedicated volunteers, and Florida Air Recovery in Punta Gorda have devoted thousands of hours to this project over the past two years, and we were gratified for their devoted efforts. At this point, it was deemed the best way to complete the task was to bring the airplane back to Oshkosh, so all the necessary resources could be immediately available.”
As a result, EAA members and a volunteer crew spent the past several weeks disassembling the historic WWII-era bomber, and loaded the components onto a number of flatbed trucks for the journey home. According to the EAA, if good weather prevails, the trucks should begin arriving in Oshkosh this coming week. Once Aluminum Overcast is unloaded within the Weeks Hangar, the EAA maintenance team will resume their repairs. There are several critical replacement parts already under remanufacture, but the restoration and reassembly process will likely take much of the coming year to complete. If no other issues occur, Aluminum Overcast should be ready to undergo flight testing sometime in 2024. Anyone wishing to contribute to the aircraft’s repairs should click HERE to find out how.
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