My Blog


Most stories are more realistic if written from experience. The problem arises when you’re writing historical fiction and weren’t ¬¬there to experience the history. I’m currently writing a historical fiction novel involving the air war over Europe during the Second World War (1939-1945). I wasn’t alive at the time. Fortunately, one of the planes I’m writing about, a B-17 Flying Fortress, still exists in an operational condition in my area. For a price, one can go for a ride in the old gal (the “Yankee Lady “was built in 1945, she’s 83-years old. One of 12, 731 built).This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. On May 9th, I gathered some friends and former teammates, and we took a ride on the Yankee Lady, a B-17-G from the Yankee Air Museum at the Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

It was an amazing experience to think that ten crewmen crammed into this unpressurized, four-engine bomber to fly at ceilings of 25,000 to 35,000 feet from England to bomb Germany, up to an eight -hour flight. It was incredible to imagine having to survive the anti-aircraft fire while fighting off enemy defense fighters all while experiencing the cramped conditions and temperatures down to minus sixty degrees.

Our flight was relatively comfortable, taking into account the noise and turbulence. My wife was right not to want to join us, although I’d recommend the experience to anyone. My father took my son when our boy was about eight, and had no interest. He didn’t appreciate it.

I learned a great deal about the plane and the men who flew them during our flight. I would have made some grave errors in my story without the experience. Obviously, there was no meal service, bathrooms, or even moving up and down the center aisle. Airmen sat, stood, or laid at their stations from takeoff to touchdown. There is no oxygen above 10,000 feet. Imagine how terrifying those lonely hours must have been, day in and day out. No paid vacation or calling in sick.

So this Memorial and Independence Day, I would like to salute all the brave men of the Eighth Army Airforce who took our war to Germany in their B-17s, suffering 47,000 casualties, 26,000 dead.