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Burrton Resident Planning Ride On B-17

Posted 5/17/2018

THE “Madras Maiden,” a World War II B-17 bomber, will be in Wichita this weekend for the public to tour and take flights on. Burrton resident Melvin Fast, who served on one of these planes in WWII, plans to be there. THE “Madras Maiden,” a World War II B-17 bomber, will be in Wichita this weekend for the public to tour and take flights on. Burrton resident Melvin Fast, who served on one of these planes in WWII, plans to be there. By Jared Janzen

BURRTON—History buffs with a sense of adventure have an opportunity for a unique experience this weekend. A World War II B-17 airplane called “Madras Maiden” will be available for the public to tour and even take a flight in this Saturday and Sunday at James Jabara Airport in Wichita.

This plane is one of only about eight or nine B-17s from World War II that are still airworthy in the United States.

One of those people checking out the B-17 this weekend will be Burrton resident Melvin Fast, who served on one of these planes during World War II.

Fast, who turns 94 at the end of this month, enlisted in the air force at age 18, right out of high school.

“World War II had started and everyone was going,” he said about his decision to enlist.

He said he was very lucky to end up in the air force because the infantry had a lot higher mortality rates.

Fast flew in a B-17 just like “Madras Maiden” called “Shacks Racks.” He spent almost two years fighting in the war overseas. He served as a waist gunner, ball turret gunner and tail gunner.

The tail gunner position was the least survivable position because that’s where enemy aircraft would usually aim their weapons. The ball turret gunner was a difficult one because the gunner would be confined in a small space for hours at a time.

“That was World War II—everything was terrible,” he said.

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