WWII B-17 Flying Fortress History in “Hit the Target”

Photo portrait of Larry Mickow, bomber pilot and POW in WWII purple heart and other awardsThe B-17 bombers of WWII were called Flying Fortresses because they could take a lot of damage and still fly. I know from first person accounts of my father, who was a Captain of a B-17. His plane was shot down, however, and he spent 18 months as a POW in Germany. The commandant of the prison was given orders by Hitler to kill all the prisoners and refused, so my dad lived. Dad said that it was not nobility or justice or humanity that stopped their massacre, but the Russians were going to arrive imminently and they didn’t want to be killed themselves.

book jacket photos of bomber pilots from WWI Eighth Airforce Flying Fortresses B-17sHit the Target: Eight Men who led the Eighth Air Force to Victory over the Luftwaffe by Bill Yenne (2015) tells the tale of more famous pilots than my dad. Amazing men who really were born to fly. I actually listened to it on CD and it was read by an excellent narrator  — the author, I think, since the library catalog record does not state another narrator. This is well worth reading and listening to it on CD. Studying all the amazing pilots would be a good theme read.

I also read the great book on the Wright Brothers awhile back, so some of the names of the featured flyers were familiar to me. Of course, since my dad was a pilot, I long have read about planes and history so the names were also familiar to me for those reasons. I’m to lazy to type them in and hyperlink. Check the Goodreads link to the book to get the names.

The author describes the importance of the legendary Norden bomb sites. So valuable that the bombardiers slept with them.

group portrait photo of Larry Mickow's B-17 plane and crew
Dad kneeling on first row left.

The intensity of the flak was not sufficiently conveyed compared to my father’s description of it being “so thick you could get out and walk on it.” He also told me of the time, after returning from a mission, he found a piece of flak embedded in his pilot seat, penetrating to within an inch or two of his back, that’s how close life and death was with flak.

Because of this, I always thought of flak as mere shrapnel, but the author describes flak as exploding charges! Not sure then if there were two or more kinds, or what the deal was, but either way, flak ripped into the Fortresses on a massive scale and they still flew.

photo portrait of Larry Mickow in uniform WWII

This is my dad, Larry Mickow. I believe the photo is labeled 1943 before he left for England. He still looks happy not haunted.

I had a photo of him that they took of POWs, but cannot find it at the moment. We moved from the jaunty hat and cocky smile to subdued Captain about to fly B-17s against Germany.

I will add the POW photo when I relocate it. He was a POW for 18 months — until the war ended.

 B-17 photos I took from my ride to honor my father
B-17 flying in for people to see the Flying Fortresses and take a ride with a donation to support maintenance.
The real pity is that they just causally scrapped this magnificent machines immediately and rapidly after the war. Considering the Russians were already behaving badly, despite the war fatigue of everyone else, whoever ordered the B-17s scraped eliminated our chance to jump back in when they began their own world domination attacks on just rescued countries from the terror of Nazis to get stuck with the brutality of the Soviet Union.
Big wing of B-17 bomber
The bomb bays are open. Some kids are checking out the ball turret.


inside the B-17 Flying Fortress
Those are the bomb loads on either side of the very narrow walkway to the front. The bomb bay doors are open that is why there is white light coming up from below. We are parked at this time.


photo inside the B-17 Flying Fortress
View of the ball turrets I think.
Captain’s Seat
B-17 Captain's seat continued
B-17 Captain’s seat continued
looking towards co-pilot seat on B-17
looking towards co-pilot seat on B-17


B-17 Flying Fortress nose
B-17 Flying Fortress nose


Flying in a B-17 over Rochester

Rochester, MN from above in a Flying Fortress
















The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup

book jacket featuring graphic of Monopoly game with the free parking cornerThis book, considered a “classic,” frames free city street parking as a hippie delusion. He presents 700+ pages of nonsense to prove his premise without questioning multiple underlying assumptions.

The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Shoup (2011), written by a Yale-educated PhD in ECONOMICS makes the argument OPPOSING FREE PARKING in this book. He claims free parking HURTS POOR PEOPLE.

I used interlibrary loan to read it after reading a reference to it as being ” the definitive” book on parking. I suspected from excerpts I would not agree with what his analysis showed and I don’t.

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The American Way of Poverty by Sasha Abramsky

book jacket text on cardboard photoThe American Way of Poverty: How the other half still lives by Sasha Abramsky (2013)

The book is full of tales of woe, so much so that you would think that politicians could not ignore such a reality. I considered suggesting sending this book to legislators, but their collective entrenched delusions would not comprehend these stories as FACT. Neither would they see this situation as SYSTEMIC. The few unfortunate cited are exceptions, not the standard way of this great America life, contrasted with their own economically secure collective multimillion dollar personal life experience.

The tyranny of the majority now in government at state and federal levels is deliberately eliminating every possible aspect of the common good. Proudly dismantling the safety net. The stupid people that voted for the monsters remain deluded that they will be better off.

The American Way of Poverty is divided into two parts. Broadly speaking, the first part of the book tells the stories of the impoverished people I met around the country, whereas the second part of the book maps out a broad set of policy discussions and connections between issues that any meaningful national level attempt to tackle poverty will have to include. These include tax reform, the welfare system, wages, access to healthcare, changes that could be made in the criminal justice system, changes in how America deals with addiction and mental illness, reforms in the foster care system, and many other area that overlap with poverty. (p. 330)

Note the link in the paragraph above goes to the web site for the book and contains some of the interviews and oral histories.

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Raising the Floor by Andy Stern

book jacketRaising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream by Andy Stern (2016)

This is a good book. I am buying this book. I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but the writing is clear and broad in scope. I was reminded of something I knew, that Alaska changed their state constitution to provide a basic income to all resident citizens from the money oil leases and such brought into the state by putting all that money into a dedicated fund to share the wealth. And a Republican governor did it.

I have some doubts about the purported takeover of technology for jobs, but that is probably a prejudice or failure of imagination on my part due to my lack of education and experience (pre-females being allowed to take shop in public schools). It is like watching magic to see a video of the automation that puts car parts together, or the mind blowing details of how the new Bay Bridge was built. Or when I saw the giant machine used to drill out the tunnel under the English channel. For that matter, every day I took the New York subway, especially though the tunnel under the water from Queens or when I drove through the Holland Tunnel and did not drown, well, it just doesn’t seem possible that mere mortals could figure out how to make tools and how to use them to accomplish such feats.

We have people who cannot make change correctly so cash register machines had to be modified to contain a function that simply told workers what the correct change should be. Icons are used instead of words, although I have to say, from a user interface point of view, this actually is a good thing on many levels: multilingual, faster, and more accurate. Translating the abstract concept of FRIES by having a little graphic of french fries in the container eliminates a lot of cross-brain work translating the letter symbols into a word and then punching a value of numbers in the register.

Trust is the number one criteria for people to accept a lot of the mechanization and technology. As a grocery shopped, you select a product based on a posted sign for a particular price. When the item is scanned at the register, can you remember the price of all the items selected to ascertain if the automated system actually priced it as the sale take listed or maybe it added a penny or a dime. Who actually watches the $$ values that are being rung up and are confident enough in their recollection to contest a price? Peer pressure of people standing in line waiting for you, the inability of the register clerk to know anything beyond what the computer tells her is right, having to call a manager over to assess the situation and go back to the shelves to check the sign, all to save 2 cents on a $2.00 purchase. Not a scenario to encourage questioning the accuracy of the technology. Even self-serve registers have this problem, or worse, because you have to do the scanning yourself while watching accuracy and then do the bagging too, again with people standing there impatiently waiting while you try to figure out why your credit card swipe is demanding a pin number you don’t have and it just seems wrong to push the red cancel button to continue.

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Thieves in High Places by Jim Hightower

book jacket author with sandwich board sign in red long johnsThieves in High Places: They’ve Stolen our Country and it’s Time to Take it Back by Jim Hightower (2003)

Another funny book by the author of:
 If the gods had wanted us to vote they would have given us candidates (2000).

Funny but it makes you want to cry way, book of commentary and actual facts from Jim Hightower. He starts the introduction with a very appropriate word for the W days: Kleptocrat Nation. I have since learned another word that better suits the 2017 administration: kakistocracy.

For those of you who don’t want to click the link, Wikipedia defines it to mean:

“a state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens”

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