Supersize service: Scouts wash World War II-era B-17 airplane

Aluminum-OvercastCub Scouts and Boy Scouts have done car washes for years, but a plane wash?

That’s a new one. But just as this wasn’t an ordinary service project, this wasn’t an ordinary plane.

A few dozen Scouts from Erie, Pa., gathered to give a World War II-era Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” a good scrubbing.

In the true spirit of Scouting, they did this not for publicity or a paycheck but as a service project. Yes, a super-cool, can’t-wait-to-tell-my-friends service project, but a service project all the same.

Duane Havard, Scout executive of the French Creek Council in northwestern Pennsylvania, sent me the details. Read all about this supersize good turn after the jump.

The B-17 Aluminum Overcast, operated by the Erie chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, is one of the few airworthy B-17s around. It still flies and had gotten pretty dirty after picking up dust, dirt and pollen while in the air.

Scouts from Troops 13, 52, 58 and 146 gathered at Tom Ridge International Airport with buckets, hoses and sponges in hand. They were prepared to scrub the B-17 from nose to tail.

They received a safety briefing — “be careful around the fabric-covered surfaces,” “don’t climb on the plane” — and then got to work.

They quickly learned that a garden hose wouldn’t get the job done, so the West Lake Fire Department provided a fire pumper to help with rinsing.

Once finished, the Scouts stood in front of the plane for a photo and a formal inspection. Not surprisingly, the plane wash was perfect. The Scouts “passed with flying colors,” said Experimental Aircraft Association chapter president Mike Rinn. “Thank you to the local Erie Boy Scouts for their hard work on Saturday morning.”

Their hard work done, the Scouts got a hot dog lunch and a ground tour of the B-17. As for the tour, “I believe the Scout leaders and the dads enjoyed this as much as the Scouts,” Rinn said. “We salute the Boy Scouts of America for their community service.”

Take a look at the full-size photo below (and click to enlarge).

B-17-Cleaning

About Bryan Wendell 3043 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.