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55 Years Later, EAAer Makes His Second B-17 Flight


Steve Diederich stands in front of Aluminum Overcast following his October 13 flight.

October 30, 2006 — Every year during EAA's B-17 tour we see many examples of veterans who get to relive their past and take one last flight in a Flying Fortress, Aluminum Overcast. For Steve Diederich of Sherwood, Arkansas, a different opportunity came on October 13 when the tour stopped at North Little Rock Municipal Airport. More than 55 years ago Steve took his first-and only-flight aboard one of the big bombers. He was less than 6 months old at the time.

"My father (Paul) told me a few years before his death in 1986 that my first ever airplane flight was in a B-17," said Steve, who was born in October 1950. At that time Paul was a B-17 crew chief at Bovingdon Field, an RAF bomber station in England. One day in late 1950 or early 1951, Paul took his infant son to the flight line to show him off to his flyboy buddies. Unexpectedly, Paul had to fill in for a scheduled test flight when no other crew chief was available.

"Even though he knew it was against regulations, he bundled me up and placed me in the aircraft for a short hop around the field," Steve said.

Earlier this year when Steve saw a poster about the EAA B-17's scheduled tour stop at North Little Rock, he said he went online that night to make reservations. "Since I had no memory of the first flight, I wanted to experience a flight in what my father referred to as one of the best airplanes ever made," he said. Steve also recruited his boss and another mutual friend to come along for the ride on October 13.

"We were probably in the best position to get a real feeling of what it would have been like to be a crewmember," Steve said of the October 13 flight. "We got an idea of the noise, the sound, the acceleration.it's beautiful, very well restored, and wonderfully maintained. I can see why people who flew the airplane think so much of it."

Steve, a long-time aviation enthusiast and RC model pilot, says he'll never forget his second flight in B-17.

"I finally got a glimpse of what my Dad knew to be true about this great aircraft," he said. "Thanks, EAA, for the experience!"

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