Skydivers jump off ‘Flying Fortress’ WW2 bomber – help raise money for a charity

A group of ten skydivers had the experience of their lifetime when they were given an opportunity to jump from the bomb bay doors of a WW2 bomber.

Skydivers from the Chicagoland Skydiving Center took part in this amazing event to raise money for the Collings Foundation. The Collings Foundation is a non-profit organization that operates these bombers. They were dropped from a famous bomber of WW2, the B-17, also known as the Flying Fortress. The skydivers paid $500 each to the charity and enjoyed this unique event. The video of the skydivers jumping from the bomb doors of the plane is available for public viewing.

A number of GoPro high definition cameras were used to film the skydivers jumping off the plane. The skydivers boarded the Flying Fortress bomber aircraft from an airport in Rockford, Illinois.

Boeing developed these bombers in the 1930s for the US Army. The prototype of the Flying Fortress was designed and built by Boeing without any external funding. A team of engineers led by Edward Curtis Wells and E. Gifford Emery worked day and night in order to make this bomber work. It made its maiden flight on 28th July 1935, when chief test pilot Leslie Tower flew the bomber successfully without any mishap or complications.

B-17 bombers took part in a number of combats throughout WW2. The aircraft also served the RAF in various non-bomber roles. It was dubbed ‘Flying Fortress’ because the prototype Model 299 had multiple machine gun chambers, so it resembled a fortress.

In the video that shows the jump, we can see the inside of the bomber. The large gun chambers can be seen along with the controls for the pilots. The video shows the plane’s massive propellers starting to spin as the pilot turns on the switch. Closed bomb bay doors are also shown in the sequence, the Mail Online reports.

After a while, the plane is at 5000ft and cruising swiftly through the air. Through a camera mounted at the bottom of the bomber, the doors can be seen opening downwards. From the inside of the plane we can see northern Illinois coming into the view, while some of the skydivers are standing on the iron railing above the wide open bomb bay doors. After a few seconds, the skydivers start jumping one by one out of the plane, while their GoPro head-mounted cameras film their epic falls. The camera fixed on the belly of the plane films the skydivers rapidly jumping out of the plane. In an amazing ending shot, we see a skydiver jumping off the plane while his camera films the plane going further away from him as he falls towards the ground.

The Chief Operations Officer of the Chicagoland Skydiving Center, who was also amongst the skydivers, expressed his gratitude for this event. He said that he has been jumping off planes for more than 3 decades and a pilot for more than 20 years, but his experience with the B-17 was one of a kind.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE