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WWII aviation history landing in Oshkosh: B17 plane now on display at EAA museum

Posted at 5:17 PM, May 23, 2024

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — There are fewer than 20 of these B-17 World War II airplanes in existence—and now, one has landed in EAA's Eagle Hangar for the public to view.

"For me personally, the B-17 is my favorite aircraft, so it's kind of like getting a huge birthday gift rolled up to your door," EAA Museum Manager Chris Henry said. "It's perhaps the most famous [plane] of world war two."

EAA Communications Director Dick Kapinski said the plane was built in 1944, and it was one of about 12,000 built.

"It was a fire bomber, it was a mapping airplane... there were a lot of things done," Kapinski said.

Now, it’s one of fewer than 20 B-17s, Kapinski said the plane needs maintenance before it can fly again.

"Some of the challenges, of course, are financial," Kapinski said. "You're probably looking at a seven figure project here by the time you're done."

But instead of leaving it in the maintenance hangar where its lived for almost two years, EAA brought it to the Eagle Hangar, which is open to the public. The idea is to let people get up close and personal with this plane, and Kapinski said it’ll stay here while they plan for its future.

"The big thing most people ask us, ‘will it fly again?’" Kapinski said. "Well, all options are open right now. People love to see this airplane fly, so if there's a way to put it in the air again someday, we'll certainly do that."

Starting Friday, the plane will be on display at the eagle hangar whenever the museum is open, and people can view it during AirVenture this summer.