My vote is the B-17 Flying Fortress (The Greatest Airplane Ever, June 8 issue).

This airplane was derived around 1934-1935 from the DC-3 when we needed longer range. (When we needed longer range for the Pacific, we built the B-29.)

The B-17 was a beautiful machine and to the surprise of many people it was quite basic. I had a Cessna 172 until Hurricane Wilma and it had more instruments and radio equipment than the B-17 I flew.

The airplanes were built by men and women (Rosie the Riveter).

B-17s were great to fly and you could rack them around same as any light plane built today. They could take a great deal of punishment and I always felt at home in the “17.”

They were really easy to fly because I just turned 19 years old when I became aircraft commander in charge of nine other boys older than me. I stayed in the training command and then went to B-29s. My first flight was March 1943 and I am still flying now.

I still love the B-17 and it is my vote for the greatest airplane ever built. Without it, Hitler would have won the war.


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