Historic WWII Flying Fortress flies into Marion ahead of D-Day anniversary

The B-17 Aluminum Overcast is on display at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois through...
The B-17 Aluminum Overcast is on display at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois through Tuesday, June 4.
Updated: Jun. 3, 2019 at 6:22 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - The 75th anniversary of D-Day is coming up this week, and one of the planes that helped win the war is on display in Marion.

The B-17 Flying Fortress named "Aluminum Overcast" will be at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois through Tuesday, June 4.

The plane is owned and operated by the Experimental Aircraft Association out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Volunteer pilots and crew members bring the living history exhibit to the people around the country.

Aluminum Overcast is one of only 10 B-17's still flying.
Aluminum Overcast is one of only 10 B-17's still flying.

“We volunteer to keep history alive,” said pilot Tom Ewing. “This would be a very different world if not for the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.”

According to Ewing, there were a total of 12,731 B-17 Flying Fortresses built over a three-year span in support of the war effort. Only 10 of those remain in the air.

“The day this this airplane has to then go in a museum behind velvet ropes never to fly again, then its story begins to disappear too,” said Ewing. “The only thing people will know about it is what you can put on a three-by-five poster board in front of it. And it’ll be forgotten. It’s a piece of history that shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Ninety-two-year-old World War II Veteran Bob Amunrud of Marion, Illinois was among a small group of passengers on Monday’s flight. He said it’s important for folks of all generations to experience history like this.

WWII Veteram Bob Amunrud of Marion, IL flew on Aluminum Overcast Monday at Veterans Airport of...
WWII Veteram Bob Amunrud of Marion, IL flew on Aluminum Overcast Monday at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois.

“People can be exposed to this, see it,” said Amunrud. “They can touch it, even ride in it. It brings history a lot closer to them."

Ewing said crews on-board planes like Aluminum Overcast would have given the war bird its name. As Aluminum Overcast never saw combat, its name came later.

“Aluminum Overcast represents if a P-51 were escorting an armada of 500 to 1,000 B-17s on a bombing run into Germany the P-51 would have looked up at this armada and it would seem like an aluminum overcast, so that’s what this represents.”

Aluminum Overcast flies over Southern Illinois Monday afternoon.
Aluminum Overcast flies over Southern Illinois Monday afternoon.

Aluminum Overcast will be on display at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois through Tuesday, June 4.

To book a flight on the historic warbird “Aluminum Overcast” stop by the airport between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Ground tours of the plane will be available between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday.

During WWII 12,731 B-17's were built in a three-year span to bomb enemy targets.
During WWII 12,731 B-17's were built in a three-year span to bomb enemy targets.

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