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EAA B-17 rides through Hurricane Ian
September 30, 2022 — EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast, which has been based in Punta Gorda, Florida, for the past year while awaiting repairs to its wing structure, apparently sustained only minor damage as Hurricane Ian came ashore in that area of the Gulf Coast earlier this week and caused tremendous damage in that region.
“We were incredibly fortunate that the aircraft did not suffer any major damage, from what early indications tell us,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board. “Our thanks to Arcadia Aerospace Industries for looking after the airplane and taking all the precautions they could prior to the storm’s landfall and during the event.”
The hangar where the B-17 was parked did suffer substantial damage, but early inspection shows only one piece of structure struck the B-17’s tail section, which is repairable. The fuselage was not damaged from initial inspection done on-site, although there is a great deal of debris in the hangar that must be cleaned up.
“The first priority is ensuring the hangar structure is safe to enter before sending our people there to further inspect the airframe,” Pelton said. “We don’t have an exact timeline for that to occur, but we are very fortunate compared to the very sad loss of life and property that occurred throughout southwest Florida during the hurricane. Our thoughts are with all in that area, including our many EAA members and friends.”
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.