"Fuddy Duddy" Brings History to Dane County

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

A serious plane with a funny name has been flying circles around the Dane County Regional Airport's Truax Field this weekend.

Its peculiar paint-job is designed to replicate the B-17 bomber known as the "Fuddy Duddy," which was lost following a midair collision over Germany in 1944. The plane is on a nationwide tour designed to elevate, and educate.

"The worst was when we got shot down, of course, that was the 30th mission for me," says World War Two Veteran, Russell Kerr, as he recalls the time he spent in the B-17 bomber known as the Fuddy Duddy -- including one bullet-riddled mission over Germany. "Very emotional...to me. Bad memories...(bad memories)...bad...bad," he continues.

"I see the wheels turning. I've see tears, I've seen smiles, I've seen touching the airplane like it was their best friend," explains Vince Hammons. Hammons is a B-17 Crew Chief with the 2005 Allied Victory Tour, which features a replica of the original "Fuddy Duddy," as it aims to recognize the work of World War Two vets, and to educate those benefiting from their sacrifice.

"If we can just spark interest in looking for the knowledge and these interesting stories that you hear from everybody. That's great, we've done our job," Hammons says.

"It makes my heart go faster. It's good for me because it keeps my heart goin'," says Betty Strohfus, who--during the war--served as a Women's Airforce Service Pilot, better known as a WASP. Today, the 83-year-old can still sting 'em. "If I had known we were gonna do this—I'd worn my uniform," she declares.

The former B-17 co-pilot now delivers aviation presentations. Her favorite audience? Young people. "I want them to know what there is out there for 'em if they work hard. And as long as it isn't illegal or immoral, go for it! Right!? Follow your dream!"

While nearly 13,000 B-17's were built, only about a dozen still take to the skies.

That "Fuddy Duddy" replica is already in Osh Kosh where it will join this year's AirVenture.

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