Well, beyond the obvious wings and a tail and so on, I was surprised to find that the E-1 and B-17 have an interesting design characteristic in common. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
I recently had the opportunity to do a second-in-command (co-pilot) check out in Aluminum Overcast, the B-17 that belongs to the EAA Foundation. Here’s a picture of the airplane:
It’s a big taildragger, about 40,000 pounds — much bigger than anything I’ve ever flown before, but I had a great instructor, and after about eight tries I managed to make a decent landing.
The trickiest part of flying the B-17 is the throttles. Here’s a picture of the throttle quadrant:
The top lever connects engines 1 and 4 to move together; the bottom lever connects 2 and 3; and in the center you have control of all four throttles individually or you can grab them together. It sounds good, but 1 and 4 are on top of 2 and 3 instead of all in a row, so at first I was forever grabbing the wrong throttle.
As to what the E-1 and the B-17 have in common, they both use split flaps, which I discussed in a previous post. As you can imagine, the B-17’s flaps are considerably larger than the E-1’s flaps. I didn’t make any measurements, but I think it would be safe to say that the B-17’s flaps are probably bigger than the E-1’s entire wing! And the B-17 flaps are powered electrically, instead of the simple manual lever that the E-1 uses.