May 8, 2015- Rolled out of bed at 0445 after a rather sleepless night. Brewed a cup of coffee, and stared at the wall trying to get my head around everything that needed to be done to make sure our B-17 Texas Raiders would be able to help salute the great individuals that secured our freedom during World War II. Checked ForeFlight for weather forecast. Looks good for our flight time. Shower, shave, and dressed in CAF attire.
Another cup of coffee! Check special paperwork required for this event. Lots of security hoops to get through getting here. Meet up with John Cotter, an excellent pilot that will be my first officer, and my replacement if something should prevent me from accomplishing the flight.
We drive 45 minutes to Culpeper, Va. (CJR) to meet up with the other flyover pilots and crew for pilot briefing, meet with the air boss to discuss events from the previous day's practice session, and get the final briefing for the DC flyover.
Briefing over, and return to Manassas, Va. Got a text from Jake Doggett, our assigned flight engineer, that the TSA, and Secret Service had done a thorough check of our aircraft, and all is well. Jake also performed the required preflight, and confirmed the aircraft was airworthy. Jake is a dedicated young man, and very knowledgeable of the B-17 and her systems. He reminds me of a friend whose father was a B-17 FE, flying missions during World War II, he was also in his early twenties.
Arrive at Manassas airport (HEF), meet up with the crew, clear with TSA, and head for the aircraft. We are all trying to contain our excitement and focus on the mission. Passenger, and crew briefing accomplished, we take our stations in the B-17.
B-24 Diamond Lil the first four engine bomber that will lead us all out for the flight is starting engines. Time for us to follow their lead. We will be the second B-17 in the bomber flight. (Call sign Bomber 2) Time to put on the total, professional pilot hat, and get down to business. Sterile cockpit, and starting checklist.
Fire guard in place. Start engines 3, 4, 2 and 1. Good starts on all engines. We are number three to taxi. Run up complete, time to launch.
Scattered clouds at our holding altitude, so we give Bomber #1 a little extra room in the orbit. Air boss calls for bombers to push from holding point Eisenhower to hold point Nimitz. We step down in the holding pattern to 1,500' MSL and push to the Potomac river.
John is on the controls, and I am managing the power. Things are quiet except for a few words to confirm our location. I notice my heart rate is increasing as we near the turn point toward the National Mall. We are on target and on time. It takes about 90 seconds to make the flyby. Now for the turn south back to the Potomac river. OK, time to take a deep breath, and we are all grinning. Yeah, we did good, and Texas Raiders did her part exceptionally well.
It felt really good to be a part of such an important event.
GOD BLESS THE USA!