Today we heard the sweet roaring music of the 4 Wright R1820's on the B-17 for the first time in 2 1/2 years, and with very few write-ups afterwards! Each engine was started, checked out and then shut down one at a time and then, when we were satisfied that everything was ok, we started all 4. I have to be honest, seeing all 4 engines running at the same time put a lump in my throat. It many not seem like much, but for the last 2 1/2 years a VERY dedicated crew of volunteers has literally put our blood, sweat and tears into this airplane. To quote Chuckie, "We had this airplane torn apart!". Patrick Mahaffey and Steve Swift started the engines and you would think that they had all just run yesterday, they all started so easily and smoothly. There wasn't even as much oil on the wing behind the engines as we expected! I truly believe that she knows that we're taking care of her, so she's taking care of us! The write-ups that we do have - all 4 of them, are minor and will take no time to fix. Pretty amazing if you look back through this thread and see how much we had torn apart!
There are a lot of people to thank for making today happen, and first and foremost is Doc and Chuckie. Without them, none of this would be possible. I'm sure Doc has a satisfied smile on his face right now. Thanks again Chuckie for letting us work on your airplane. James Kelly is always there to be our in-house B-17 Tech Rep, to answer questions and give advice. Pat Mahaffey and Steve Swift are two of the best A&P's I know and oh by the way, they do a heck of a job flying 'em too! Mike Tolfa, always eager to help in anyway with "a strong back and weak mind". Don't let him fool you, he's smarter and more talented than you can shake a stick at. Without Mike we would not have been able to finish the spar AD. Big John Frazier, ramp/hangar boss extrordinaire. John did an excellent job making sure that everyone stayed safe and that things went smoothly. Rick Reynolds is another great A&P who comes out all the time and is always willing to help with whatever is needed, pushing brooms or instaling spar bolts. Scott/Ellen Hochstein come down all the way from Tulsa just to work on our B-17. Scott is our #1 sheetmetal guy who also knows his away around just about any system on the airplane. He rigged all the flight/engine controls. Last but not least is Perry Williams, our machine shop chief, helped us out with making tooling to get the spar bolts out and with getting the new spar bolts installed. I know that there are others who helped out and I thank each and everyone of you. The guys mentioned above are the guys that came out just about every weekend and sometimes during the week after working all day at thier jobs to make a dream come true. We're almost there and today was a huge step forward in reaching that dream of seeing the B-17 named "Chuckie" flying gracefully over the skies of North Texas. I am deeply humbled to be the Crew Chief of such a magnificent airplane, owned by such wonderful owners and to be called "Chief" by such an amazing and talented crew. Thank YOU guys, without YOU we couldn't have made it this far.
Franklin "Hawkeye" Pool video taped all of the engine runs and even had a mic wired into the airplane intercom system so you can hear Pat, Steve and John's radio chatter, so once he's finished edting the video and audio he'll be putting it on the homepage of the museum's website. http://www.vintageflyingmuseum.org
. Unfortunatley I didn't take any pictures, I was too busy checking out the engines from the ground and just generally looking things over to make sure that all was ok. I'm sure that Dean and Hawkeye will have some pics/video to post soon.