It has been nearly 70 years since the last Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress lifted into the air during World War II to join the largest air armada ever to fill the skies, but this Saturday, the four giant Wright-Cyclone engines of “Texas Raiders,” a fully restored B-17, will be roaring over Houston’s Hobby Airport.
Of the 12,731 B-17s built across the US, only nine are flying, including “Texas Raiders,” part of the Commemorative Air Force. One of the last flying examples of the famous WWII aircraft arrives this weekend at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, offering the attendees at the “Wings and Wheels” event a rare opportunity to see and touch one of history’s most storied heavy bombers, which features authentic period-specific machine guns, original radio equipment, and the famed Norden bombsight.
“Wings and Wheels” will feature a fly-in for vintage and contemporary aircraft, as well as vintage automobiles on display, and the crew of the Flying Fortress will meet a few antique automobiles of the same vintage as the iconic bomber. “Texas Raiders” will offer tours and the unique opportunity for rides in the historic aircraft. Beginning Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday, the public can visit the aircraft and, for nominal admission, can take a walk-through tour that includes commentary from crew members. Attendees can make a reservation for one of the limited number of 30-minute flights on the classic aircraft, too.
“Texas Raiders” has undergone extensive restoration, and performs regularly in airshows and flyovers throughout the U.S., reuniting veterans and the public with the historic WWII aircraft.
Admission to “Wings and Wheels” is $7; tours on Texas Raiders are $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12. To fly aboard “Texas Raider,” call 1-855-FLY-A-B17 (1-855-359-2217) or send an email to info@B17TexasRaiders.org.
Story and photo by Commemorative Air Force Gulf Coast Wing