Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Tall Tale?

OK, this is how the story goes.  Yesterday Indiana Angel Lynn sent along a note about this guy who had this gas station that you see in the photos above.  Knowing the my Dad was a top turret gunner on one of these bomber/gunships back in WWII, Lynn thought I would enjoy knowing about it.  Well, I immediately sent the note off to Arizona DF & LBR Tom B.  Meanwhile, Tom B. did some online research and sent the "backstory" winging up here to Idaho.  And, so, without further ado, we present your Tuesday Tall Tale:

Shortly after WWII a guy named Art Lacey went to Kansas to buy a surplus B-17. His idea was to fly it back to Oregon , jack it up in the air and make a gas station out of it. He paid $15,000 for it. He asked which one was his and they said take whichever you want because there were miles of them. He didn't know how to fly a 4-engine airplane so he read the manual while he taxied around by himself. They said he couldn't take off alone so he put a mannequin in the co-pilot's seat and off he went.

He flew around a bit to get the feel of it and when he went to land he realized he needed a co-pilot to lower the landing gear. He crashed and totaled his plane and another on the ground. They wrote them both off as "wind damaged" and told him to pick out another. He talked a friend into being his co-pilot and off they went. 

They flew to Palm Springs where Lacey wrote a hot check for gas. Then they headed for Oregon . They hit a snow storm and couldn't find their way, so they went down below 1,000 feet and followed the railroad tracks. His partner sat in the nose section and would yell, "TUNNEL" when he saw one and Lacey would climb over the mountain .

They landed safely, he made good the hot check he wrote, and they started getting permits to move a B-17 on the state highway. The highway department repeatedly denied his permit and fought him tooth and nail for a long time, so late one Saturday night, he just moved it himself. He got a $10 ticket from the police for having too wide a load.

1 comment:

Marti Spudboater said...

So my question is does this plane and gas station still exist at that location? I can't wait to share this blog link with my stepbrother so he can print it out and show our dad. He'll get a real kick out of it since he, too, was on one of those planes, as I've told you before.