Aluminum overcast | SierraSun.com
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Aluminum overcast

On Thursday, six decades after Keith Anderson flew airplanes in anger, the ridiculous din of four 1,200-horsepower engines revving just past the thin aluminum skin of a B-17 bomber had his ice-blue eyes beaming.The same eyes that searched for diving Messerschmits, winced at deadly flak bursts and watched comrades plummet to early ends 60-plus years ago soaked in the stripped down interior of the B-17 as it taxied along the Truckee Tahoe Airports tarmac.Fighter planes and anti-aircraft fire werent the only dangers that came with flying 30,000-plus feet over Germany during World War II, the 80-something, ex-bomber pilot recalled Thursday over the four throaty Wright Cyclone engines. Fifty-degree-below-zero temperatures served up frostbite on exposed skin while the high altitude could cause cerebral edema, or brain swelling, in crew members who lost their supply of oxygen.It wasnt fun, but it was a job youd have to do, Anderson, a Seattle native, said. It was dangerous while we were flying. But it was better than being in a fox hole on the ground.Those harsh memories, however, couldnt dampen Andersons enthusiasm as he navigated the narrow, pitching fuselage of the B-17 as it banked left and right over Truckee.Its hard to say how many times Anderson made similar treks through Flying Fortresses during 29 missions into the heart of Germany, but on Thursday the old body followed the clear blue eyes to the flight deck. This time the mission had nothing to do with anger, but of remembrance.


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