97-year-old WWII veteran takes ride in B-17 bomber to celebrate Veteran's Day

The Air Force veteran said he'd rather be navigating than just "sitting there."

November 11, 2019, 11:20 AM

A World War II veteran celebrated Veteran's Day by taking a flight to yesteryear -- in an aircraft that first saw combat at the time of his service.

Suwanee, Georgia, resident Herman Tannenbaum, 97, who served in the Air Force in the Philippines during WWII, and some of his buddies got a chance to ride in a B-17 bomber on Sunday to commemorate the holiday, ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV reported.

While waiting for the flight to takeoff from Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville, Tannenbaum said he was "looking forward" to the flight but admitted the idea of not participating in operations of the historic plane was making him a little uneasy.

"Not having much to do, just sitting on the plane -- I'd rather be navigating," he said, adding that he would look out of the window for sites that he recognizes instead to pass the time.

A B-17 bomber aircraft from World War II arrives at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in Fla., Jan. 18, 2019.
Tribune News Service via Getty Images, FILE

Tannenbaum was a navigator on the North American B-25 Mitchell, and Sunday marked his first time in the B-17.

"I enjoyed it immensely. It was nothing to compare with what we doing in war," he said after the flight. "This was interesting. Brought back some memories and it was a joyful experience."

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress took its first flight in 1935 and was first used in combat in 1931, when the British Royal Air Force ordered several of the four-engine planes for high-altitude missions, according to Boeing.

The planes were "legendary" for their ability to stay in the air "taking brutal poundings," according to Boeing.

"I feel heartened that a lot of people are interested in aircraft and history," Tannennbaum said.

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