Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum will celebrate completion of initial site work for its Exploration of Flight center at Centennial Airport at 10 AM on Wednesday, October 14th. The first aircraft to arrive and dedicate the center’s new Flight Ramp will be a rare, World War II B-17 “Flying Fortress.” The general public is welcome to attend, tour the aircraft, and register for flights.
A parade of old and new aircraft will honor the “greatest generation” and inspire the “latest generation.” Exploration of Flight will expand initiatives that have already reached hundreds of teachers and thousands of young people. Students from the recently launched Wings Aerospace Academy and educators from Wings’ Teacher Flight Program will join World War II veterans to represent multiple generations of aerospace leadership in Colorado.
Colorado’s Official Air & Space Museum will become a two-site institution not unlike the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. The Museum’s Lowry site is developing as a heritage center with over $5 million invested in recent upgrades. A $21 million Wingspan Capital Campaign has received $9 million in pledges to develop Exploration of Flight as a flight-based, education and technology center on 15 acres along Centennial Airport’s Runway 10-28. Future phases of construction are anticipated in 2016.
“We look forward to dedicating our Flight Ramp as the culmination of many years of planning, and the first step toward fulfillment of the potential of our Exploration of Flight center,” said Greg Anderson, Wings Over the Rockies’ President & CEO. “Conducting flight activities from our own site will expand our educational outreach mission as fundraising helps us achieve future phases of construction.”
The B-17G Flying Fortress, nicknamed “Aluminum Overcast” is one of 12, 731 B-17’s built during World War II. It is in the colors of the 398th Bomb Group in the “Mighty Eighth” Air Force, the largest aerial combat organization ever assembled. “Aluminum Overcast” is one of fewer than ten airworthy B-17’s remaining in existence. Flying Fortresses received their name from often returning their crews with severe battle damage. Owned and operated by EAA, the aircraft has toured the country for over twenty years and flown thousands of passengers. A crew of ten typically flew 25 or 30 missions in raids over enemy territory, turning the tide that eventually made safe our way of life for future generations.
The general public is invited to take part in one or more of three unique opportunities with the B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” between October 14-21. B-17 veterans, teachers and students will dedicate the Flight Ramp at Exploration of Flight at 10 AM on Wednesday, October 14th. Celebrating with the B-17 will be Wings’ Alexander Eaglerock, the first aircraft manufactured in Colorado; a 450 Stearman which has flown 350 teachers from Pueblo to Wyoming; and a “Sun Flyer” solar electric aircraft under development at Centennial. Because the public road is still under construction, attendees may park along Wallace Court and board shuttle vans to the site. The B-17 and Stearman will fly media and teachers, while guests may enjoy free ground tours and register for personalized, commemorative dog tags.
Flights are available aboard “Aluminum Overcast” during its Denver visit between October 14-21 by visiting owner/operator EAA’s website, www.B17.org. All flights will take place from Signature Flight Support’s ramp at Centennial Airport. Prices are $409 or $449 to pre-register. Increased prices for walk-ups also available.
And, from October 14-21, flight operations can be observed during the morning, and ground tours of the aircraft will be conducted every afternoon at Centennial’s Signature Flight Support ($10/person, $20/family, veterans and under 8 free). All visitors will receive admission discount coupons to Wings Over the Rockies.