Fort Collins B-17 is a solely volunteer group with a passion for aviation and history.
My name is Eli Josephs. I am leading the project to build a B-17G. I first had the crazy idea of building a B-17 in January of 2016. Since then, I've started Fort Collins B-17, a group dedicated to the preservation of the past for the future. We are building a B-17 because we want to remember and honor those who served in WWII, in both theatres and the homefront. These people have countless stories which are being lost daily. I wanted to do something to keep their stories in the present, and to remind people about our past. I combined this with the rich history of our war years and a deep passion for aviation.
Their stories drew me in, and captivated me. Our first purchase, an altimeter, struck me profoundly. I purchased it off of eBay, knowing very little about it. Upon its arrival, I traced the serial number on a whim, and came up with the B-17F "El Conquistador I." When I first saw the picture of the aircraft, I had to shed a tear. I was holding a piece of that history, that very plane, and a small part of its terrifying story. At the end of El Conquistador's life, this instrument, which I was holding in my hand, had been one of the last and only functioning gauges in the aircraft. The pilot looked directly at the same face I was looking at. From that moment onwards, I've been dedicated to the project. I hope you will be too.
I have personally put more than a thousand dollars into radio sets and equipment for the aircraft so far. Behind this figure, stand hundreds of hours of work, either creating 3-D models of parts for the aircraft, or servicing, repairing, and building the SCR-274-N Command Radio. I spend a large amount of my free time on the aircraft. It is a hobby and a passion, which I'm hoping to share with others just like you.
Chapter 515 of the Experimental Aviation Association and their members have been a great support for me and the group. Everyone who attends has a love for aviation, and wants to give that love to other people. For them, aviation is an important building block for their lives, just as it has become for myself. The aviation community is a set of helpful and kind people, who all have a deep interest in aircraft and flying. We all invite you to join us, and work together to acheive the goal of building this B-17.
A line which I beleive in, is, "You can say a project won't succeed, but maybe that's because you're not trying to help it." I certainly hope you'll help out!
Here's the current estimate:
Engines: We need four airworthy engines, which is an undertaking in itself. To buy 4 engines, will be about $200,000. On top of the purchase costs, we will most likely need to do rebuilds, certifications, and servicing, which could take up another $200,000. All told, the engines will cost about $400,000.
Electrical Equipment: It is hard to estimate this cost, because almost all of the equipment must be purchased through auction sites or people who are willing to sell equipment to us. So far, the SCR-274-N command set has cost over $1,000 alone. Beyond radio equipment, there is the interphone, radar, instruments, sensors, etc, all of which need to be purchased. These all will also require servicing. A final electrical cost comes as the modern equipment, required by the FAA. A reasonable estimate for all of the electronics in the aircraft is $150,000.
Airframe: This cost is largely dependant upon equipment. We need jigs and machines for building and assembling parts. If we were able to build for material costs and bought from a bulk vendor, we might spend $50,000-$100,000 depending on the vendor. We must then add on costs for machines and jigs. However, it is unlikely that we will purchase specialty machines, so many parts must be outsourced. In total, the estimate for the airframe sits at around $600,000.
Various Parts: A large portion of the aircraft will be original parts. A good example is landing gear and turrets. All of this must be found and purchased. A good estimate sits around $400,000.
Space: Often overlooked, space is extremely important. We will need to purchase or rent a hangar in order to build the aircraft. Building a hangar in a cheaper location will cost around $500,000. Rent may be cheaper, but we have not looked into this further, as we are building modules and small parts before the airframe. The biggest issue is finding a hangar large enough.
Unforseen: Of course, there will be bumps along the way. We can't produce a price for this, but it has potential to raise the total cost. However, there is also the possibility of the price dropping if parts can be found at cheaper prices.
TOTAL: The total estimate comes out to just over two million, $2,050,000.
At this price, provided with a large team of committed volunteers, the aircraft could be completed within 5 years. Of course, we don't have two million dollars, and don't spend 12 hours a day seven days a week on the aircraft. A realistic time estimate, would be between 10 and 20 years time before flight testing will begin.
We have had several small donations, which have been very helpful in this stage of the project. In order to complete the project we will need thousands of these donations.
I love random donations, but what I love more, is when people become actively involved in the project as well as donating. I do not expect you to donate money, and just watch it float away. I want you to donate, and help us make this dream a reality. You have as much ability to make this project a success as I do. I have personally donated over $1,000 so far towards equipment, but I didn't just buy it and let it sit in a box. I have serviced it, cleaned it, and repaired what has been broken. I urge you to join with us and do the same.
Even if you can't be here with us, you can still help out. We need to model all of the parts for the B-17G with Solidworks, which you can receive for free if you are an EAA National Member. If we don't have parts modelled and approved, we can't use any donations to start building- Verifying drawings and assemblies comes first!
The smallest donations will help, too. $5 will buy a set of electrical connector pins for the radio sets. $10 can buy a connector itself. $15 is 50 feet of wiring. $20 is a sheet of aluminum to build a structural bracket. $50 is enough to buy a section of sheet metal large enough to build all four sides of the throttle control quadrant. We don't need huge donations to make this project work, but we do need your support and help.
Donating isn't just sending $10 to the group and walking away. Of course, we would welcome $10, but what we really want, is your interest in making the project a reality. Along with a donation, any information or suggestions are always welcomed.
In fact, you don't need to donate money to be a sponsor or donor! A great example is Mike from AAF Radio. He has provided priceless information and forsight into the creation of our SCR-274-N radio set, and has been added on our sponsors page. Another great person who has donated his time, is Noah Saxton. He has spent countless hours producing over 150 3-D models in Solidworks. Often, commitment and information can be much more valuable than money.
In the small meeting room of the EAA Chapter 515 meetings, there is easily over a century of experience between the small group. With each person who starts dedicating time and effort to this B-17, we gain more experience, more man-power, and more will to push us towards the completion of the aircraft.
Please contact me through our contacts page, I'd love to discuss the project and have you onboard!
Feel free to send any donation size through the button on the left, and don't forget to leave a note!
To see what is currently happening, take a look at our news page.