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B-17 Begins Truck Trip Northward
After several weeks of disassembly, EAA and volunteer crews in Punta Gorda, Florida, have loaded the trucks to ship the B-17 Aluminum Overcast back to Oshkosh to complete repairs and get the Flying Fortress back into flight status.
The disassembled aircraft was loaded onto several trucks, with some sections heading north on Monday and the rest to follow this week. Weather permitting, the airframe could be back in Oshkosh by late next week. After arriving at the Weeks Hangar, the repairs and reassembly will continue, tasks that will likely take most of the coming year. The hope is to have the B-17 ready for flight testing in 2024.
“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,” said Jeff Toline, EAA’s director of aircraft operations and maintenance. “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.”
Aluminum Overcast has been in Punta Gorda since March 2021, when a routine pre-flight inspection revealed a crack emanating from the left sheer web, which is a secondary support structure for the wing. The only way to repair that is by removing the wing. The repair itself is not overly complicated, but getting to it is. As the wing was removed, EAA teams noticed other things that would be best served by repairing them at the same time. The proper parts for the vintage World War II bomber are currently being specially manufactured for the repairs.
The aircraft also dodged two weather calamities in Florida: Hurricane Ian hit the Punta Gorda airport this past September but only caused minor damage to the B-17 when the hangar in which it was parked was heavily damaged. A short time later, tornadoes ripped through that area but fortunately missed the aircraft at the airport.