To anyone who feels that commercial flights have just become too gosh darn comfortable, the opportunity to spend 20 minutes or so in the cramped confines of a B-17 bomber might be just what the doctor ordered.
As for the rest of you — well, it’ll be educational.
Starting Monday, visitors to the University Park Airport can get a tiny taste of what it might have been like to fly missions over the Pacific Theater during World War II.
It’s another thing to experience the sound, the smoke and the vibration.
According to Mike Mueller, the ride program manager with the Flying Legends of Victory Tour, the experience is a lot like what you’ve seen in the movies, only burdened by reality.
“It’s another thing to experience the sound, the smoke and the vibration,” Mueller said.
Close to 13,000 B-17s were produced between 1936 and 1945, most of which were lost to combat. The craft that will be at UPA is one of only 10 that are still capable of flight.
It gives them an opportunity to see aircraft they wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to see.
Mueller said passenger reactions have ranged all the way from smiles to tears.
“We’ve had veterans come out to the airplane and say, ‘I don’t ever want to fly in one of those again,’ ” Mueller said.
Travis Major, on the other hand, keeps coming back for more. The pilot, who will spend the next week at UPA, still remembers the first time he flew in a B-17.
“It was a very surreal experience because you can’t help but think what it was like during World War II,” Major said.
The B-17 will be on display through Sept. 4, and Mueller estimates that the crew will embark on at least five flights a day, lasting 20 minutes each.
Sponsored by the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum, the tour last visited State College in 2014 and Bryan Rodgers, airport director at UPA, said he’s happy to have it back.
It’s not uncommon to see a plane at the airport, but the B-17 is a part of aviation history.
“It gives them an opportunity to see aircraft they wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to see,” Rodgers said.
If you go
What: Legends of Victory Tour
Where: University Park Airport, 2535 Fox Hill Road, State College
When: Monday through Sept. 4
Tour hours: Monday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday- Thursday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday- Sunday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person or $20 per family of four for a tour, flight costs vary