April 27, 2015— Yankee Lady, the meticulously restored World War II Boeing B-17G heavy bomber will be flying into Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport, Stratford Connecticut and Three Wing Aviation on Monday, May 18. The estimated time of arrival is 11:00 a.m. This Flying Fortress, the historic four-engine flagship of the Yankee Air Museum based at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, will be available for tours and Flight Experience (FLEX) rides the entire afternoon and through Wednesday, May 20.
“We’re really excited to have this aircraft operate from our base,” exclaimed Jared Gowlis of Three Wing Aviation. “The fact that Yankee Lady is one of only nine Forts still flying puts an exclamation point on it.”
Gowlis explained that Three Wing Aviation is always interested in having significant attractions saying this appearance by Yankee Lady will keep interest high and eyes skyward reminding people there are cool things going on at their airport.
The Yankee Lady appearance in this the 70th Anniversary year of the end of World War II also coincides with special events being planned by the Connecticut Air and Space Center, located near the airport. The Center has recently leased a WWII era Curtiss Hangar and will be restoring it.
“We’re planning a brief ribbon cutting and the Yankee Lady will taxi into the ceremony and park alongside the Corsair we’re restoring,” said Ed McGuinness, Treasurer of the Connecticut Air and Space Center. “It will be a moment to remember and I’m sure it’ll be a great photo opportunity.”
McGuinness explained the significance of the B-17 was its mission to bomb strategic targets in daylight precision raids. Some airstrikes would have up to 1000 planes flying in waves over enemy industrial targets. This campaign, he says, crippled the enemy’s ability to make war and helped liberate Europe.
“As a late G-model, our Flying Fortress was originally delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force on July 16, 1945 with natural metal finish,” said Norm Ellickson, B-17 Crew Chief. “Recently, we washed off the grime that accumulates during the winter maintenance cycle. Then we had the 20th Annual Bomber Buffing and about 300 people came out to help us. This massive effort combining elbow grease with Mothers ™ Aluminum Polish gives the Lady’s skin a mirror-like shine.”
Ellickson said it’s impossible to keep planes like the Yankee Lady B-17 in pristine condition without community support at home and everywhere they fly. He credits local Stratford resident and aircraft enthusiast Nancy Cole with superstar efforts to enlist sponsors to help make the Bridgeport-Stratford mission possible.
“We carry a crew of ten volunteers to conduct flight operations,” said Ellickson. “We burn 200 gallons of high octane aviation fuel an hour, and the cost of spare parts is amazing. Having meals, rooms and ground transportation sponsored helps us hold the line on our flight experience prices.”
Ellickson thanks the Windsock Restaurant for lunch on Monday and Knapps Landing for dinner. He also thanks Stanziele’s Restaurant for hosting the crew for dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Hampton Inn is providing much appreciated ground transportation, breakfast and lodging.
“These sponsors are telling us that living history is important. They’re invested in honoring the legacy of World War II Veterans and America’s Greatest Generation and we are too,” continued Ellickson. “Their support means the donations we receive can be invested back into the airplane, to keep her flying.” Ellickson said ground tours cost $5.00 for adults aged 15 and above; $2.00 for kids aged 6 to 15 and all others are free. A ride is a 45-minute experience with approximately 30 minutes of flight time and costs $450.00. To order a B-17 FLEX ride or to obtain a gift certificate, call 734-483-4030, extension 236.
About Yankee Air Museum: Established in 1981, the Yankee Air Museum is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization located on the grounds of historic Willow Run Airport in Michigan. For more information about YAM call 734-483-4030 or visit the www.yankeeairmuseum.org website. For a 90 second video glimpse into a FLEX Ride aboard our aircraft visit:
About Three Wing Aviation: Located at Bridgeport Sikorsky Memorial Airport (West Ramp/General Aviation Parking) 400 Great Meadow Road, Stratford, CT 06615 and founded in 1974 by Andy Pothanszky, Three Wing Aviation has been providing aircraft rental, flight instruction, fuel sales and aircraft maintenance ever since. In July of 2012 Jared Gowlis, Anthony DiNuzzo and Robert Russo took over ownership of Three Wing as Three Wing Aviation, LLC. For more information, visit the www.threewing.com website.
About the Connecticut Air & Space Center: Located in Stratford, near Sikosrky Memorial Airport, the Connecticut Air & Space Center is a 501 (c)(3) charitable corporation dedicated to honoring the pioneers of early aviation, restoring and preserving examples of the aircraft they flew, and educating current and future generations about Connecticut’s unique aviation heritage. For more information, visit the www.ctairandspace.org website.