Photos by Steve Shay
The B-17 “Aluminum Overcast,” the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EEA) restored B-17 bomber, gave two media flights at Boeing Field this Monday, May 21. A few B-17 veterans were on-board, including decorated pilot Emerson Tolles of Wenatchee, pictured wearing his original flight jacket. Tours of the aircraft, and rides, are available May 24 to 27, by the Seattle Museum of Flight. CLICK ON PHOTO FOR SLIDESHOW.

SLIDESHOW: UPDATED with photos of...B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" at Boeing Field May 24-27 for “Salute to Veterans” national tour


The B-17 “Aluminum Overcast,” the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EEA) restored B-17 bomber, was set for two "media flights" at Boeing Field by the Seattle Museum of Flight today, May 21. At least three World War II veterans who flew B-17's were among the passengers. Rain was pouring on the bird on a truly overcast day. The Flying Fortress performed well, and rewarded its passengers with a few drips of rain that found their way indoors.

"This particular plane (which did not see action in the war) was a hard working post-war plane," said Neil Morrison of Port Townsend, one of the B-17 pilots today. "It was surveying and aerial mapping. It went all over the world, and mapped what became Israel, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

"There were 400 to 800 B-17's per day flying over Germany and Occupied France," he added. "But each plane carried just 6,000 pounds of bombs, with 10 crew members on-board. It burns 200 gallons an hour. at 170 miles per hour. It wasn't about the speed or fuel, but how long it can stay in the air. Big trips like (England) to Berlin was the absolute limit and, when they returned, they'd often ditch the plane into the English Channel. They deployed lifeboats and ships constantly cruised the harbor to retrieve the crew."

Decorated World War II pilot Emerson Tolle, 94, of Wenatchee, came to Seattle today to be a passenger on the flight. A B-17 squadron commander, he flew 51 missions. He trained in Spokane and Walla wall and was then shipped off to Foggia, Italy. He served in the 463rd Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Silver Star.

Tolle, who wore his original leather flight jacket, described his flight to the West Seattle Herald.

"It brought back memories when I heard the motors," the sharp-minded Tolle said. "It had a distinctive feel and roar when it took off and landed, and having the pilot come back and make a perfect landing was a real thrill. I used to work on landings. I liked to come in so you didn't have a bounce. This guy landed and I didn't even know he landed."

Read more about Emerson Tolles and how his heroics saved his crew in a recent Wenatchee interview here.

The B-17 “Aluminum Overcast,” the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EEA) restored B-17 bomber, arrives at Boeing Field by the Seattle Museum of Flight this Monday, May 21. Tours of the aircraft, and rides, are available May 24 to 27. The event is hosted by "The Cascade Warbirds ".

In a related West Seattle Herald article, here, King County has issued a press release alerting area residents to increased noise.

The Aluminum Overcast is on its year-long, “Salute to Veterans” national tour. The plane was built in 1945, but was delivered to the Army Air Corps too late to see active service in World War II. It was donated to the EAA Aviation Foundation in 1981 with the provision of the aircraft being maintained in airworthy condition. After being displayed at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for a decade, the airplane made its national tour debut in the spring of 1994.

Known as “The Flying Fortress,” the B-17 bomber is considered one of the greatest military airplanes ever built and one of the best-known aircraft types of the World War II era.

For more information, including rates for flights and ground tours, visit or contact EAA’s B-17 Tour Office at 800-359-6217.

Cost of flight:

Current EAA Member $409
Non EAA Member $449

The above prices are for advance bookings only. Flights purchased on site are $435 for EAA members and $475 for Non-members.

Self guided ground tours daily from 2pm to 5pm. ($10 for adults, $20 per family) Active military and veterans admitted free.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.