BROOMFIELD - 12,732 B-17 Bombers were built to fight in in World War II. About a third of them were lost in combat, including the one 96-year-old Bob McAdam was in when it was shot out of the sky.
One of the surviving aircraft made its way to Broomfield Monday so that Bob could get on board for the first time since jumping out 73 years ago.
McAdam was 23 when he set out for his first mission with the U.S. Army Air Corps. The target: oil fields in Germany. His crew never made it to the location.
“Especially trying to get out with the parachute and everything, getting through some of those spaces was a challenge,” McAdam said after climbing through the narrow passages of the plane at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.
The memories he said, didn’t have to come back. They’ve remained with him all of these years.
“One of the crew mentioned that there’s smoke coming out of the number two engine and then right after that the other onboard engine started to sputter,” he said of that day in 1944. “We turned around, jettison the bombs and throw everything you can out of the plane. Then about thirty minutes into the return flight the third engine went out. That’s when we were told to bail out.”
And so 23-year-old Bob McAdam jumped. The crew of eight was taken prisoner by German soldiers. McAdam would spend the next ten months in a prison camp only to be liberated by Russian troops.
Monday's tour was thanks to a non-profit called Liberty Foundation which takes the B-17 across the country for tours. The public can fly in the plane for $450 per person this Saturday and Sunday at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport or just tour the plane in the afternoons after flights. Donations are requested for a tour.
To book a flight this weekend call (918) 340-0243.
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