Last Saturday (April 15), the Yankee Air Museum announced it was grounding its World War II-vintage Boeing B-17G “Yankee Lady” in anticipation of an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD), expected within a few weeks. Online sources, including a detailed article at Aerovintage.com, anticipate the AD will likely ground all currently flying B-17s due to “wing spar issues” cited by the Yankee Air Museum.
The Michigan-based museum posted on its Facebook page: “Hello, The Yankee Air Museum decided to proactively cease flight operations of the B-17G Flying Fortress ‘Yankee Lady.’ Recent inspections of other B-17s have discovered wing spar issues. As a result, we expect a mandatory Airworthiness Directive to be issued by the FAA in the next few weeks regarding the matter. Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily ceasing our B-17 flight operations and awaiting direction from the FAA regarding necessary inspections and repairs that will be required. It is expected that the B-17 will not fly during the 2023 flying season. Please note that this only affects the B-17.”
The announcement added that those who had scheduled “Air Adventure” rides on “Yankee Lady” would receive refunds and assured that its B-25, C-47, and Bell UH1 “Huey” helicopter will continue to fly with passengers. A 25-minute ride on the B-17 is priced at $525 ($425 for museum members) according to the museum’s website.
“Yankee Lady” is one of the few B-17s currently operating in the U.S. Others include the Commemorative Air Force’s “Sentimental Journey” and the Erickson Aircraft Collection’s “Olde Pub.” According to Wikipedia and other sources, there are currently nine airworthy B-17s worldwide out of 12,731 manufactured by Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed between 1936 and the end of World War II in 1945.
The Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast” has remained grounded since April 2021 over issues with its wing spars, and it is thought that the upcoming AD results at least in part from what has been uncovered in efforts to address those issues.