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World War II veterans take flight in B-17 bomber

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:47:16 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 27 2013 06:08:07 AM CDT

For World War II veterans Nathan Kline, Donald Miller and LaVerne Gildner, it was a sight more than 60 years in the making.

HANOVER TWP., Pa. -

For World War II veterans Nathan Kline, Donald Miller and LaVerne Gildner, it was a sight more than 60 years in the making.

"I'm jumping out of my skin," Gildner said.

The trio was part of a group of veterans and media taking flight on a B-17 Flying Fortress, a key plane during World War II. The flight took place at Lehigh Valley International Airport Thursday.

On board as one veteran helped another onto the plane, the men were banded together once again.

For 90-year-old World War II vet Harry Overbaugh, it was his first time back in a B-17 since flying home in 1945 after initially being declared missing in action when his plane was shot down.

"How was your mother reacting when you walked in the door?" his son in law, who was also on the flight, asked him.

"She cried," he replied.

As the plane took off, a fresh set of tears could be seen coming from the men. But this is a flight you, too, can take.

Friday through Sunday, the Experimental Aircraft Association is giving the public a place on the plane, either on the 25-minute flight from Lehigh Valley International Airport, near Allentown, or a walk through on the tarmac.

"When in the air, you can get up and move around the cockpit. Go into the navigator bombardier area, walk around where the waste gunners worked," said George Daubner, the operations manage.

Back in World War II, the men who flew in the plans had a 30 percent chance of not coming back. They flew 25 missions to complete their duty. However, those heading the flight said chances of coming back now are a lot better than that.

Back on the ground, a flight full of memories for the veterans and possibly you, too.

For more information about the EAA B-17 tour, call 920-371-2244.