PRESS RELEASE APRIL 1, 2019 (ROYTERS NEWZ) – Aviation enthusiasts worldwide are cheering the re-introduction of a “lost” B-17 variant, restored by the famous experimental aircraft designer Bert Rootan. Over 12,700 B-17’s were produced between 1935-45, and in its hey-day the plane conducted operations in more than two dozen nations – most famously as a WWII American bomber over the European theater of war, from which this particular plane was recovered, shipped to the US, and re-built.
Asked by a reporter why he would want to spend his efforts restoring an old plane when he has been celebrated for such innovations as carbon fiber composites on airplane wings, Mr. Rootan said “Some people think that because I create new aircraft designs, I cannot respect the old ways. Well, I reject that canard.”
The plane is a one-of-a-kind B-17 variant. No former crew members have ever come forward to talk about this plane. The salvage crew mapped the locations on the ground of all the internal and external pieces at the wreckage site in order to rebuild it exactly. Here are the mid-ship gunner's nests and turret.
Mr. Rootan said: “When we found this plane’s remains, the wings and tail fins were completely separated from the fuselage. My crew did a marvelous job on mechanical repairs, without my supervision due to my schedule. My small contribution to their efforts was to oversee the retrofitting of the wings and tail fins.” Here is the tail-gunner's station.
Mr. Rootan is planning to put the restored B-17 on museum display as soon as possible. While hoping that public showings renew people’s admiration for this variant of the classic warbird, Mr. Rootan also hopes that someday we can solve the mystery a series of 22 letters and numbers scrawled on a wall in the radio room. They are thought to be some kind of encryption key used to send messages transmitted from the plane: 9 1 0 2 Y A D S L O O F L I R P A Y P P A H.
As this story was going to press, a former War Department photographer came forward with this photo below that he had long kept secret!
And THAT is another way to get smiles with LEGOs! With apologies to legendary aircraft engineer Burt Rutan, at whose expense I made a little fun on April Fool’s Day! Here is the B-17 profile you expect: