Bomber Gas has been a landmark in the Portland area since 1947, when it arrived and became the region’s most unusual filling station. It stopped operating as a gas station in 1991, and has since been associated with the adjacent Bomber Drive-Inn restaurant, where visitors can grab a, as the owners put it, ‘Classic American’ bite and a souvenir Bomber placemat.
The Bomber Gas is made from a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, type G. Shortly after the war Art Lacey went to Kansas to buy a surplus B-17 (on this Youtube film: http://nl.youtube.com/watch?v=tqbUG0dmxfk ) you can get a glimps of the surplus). His idea was to fly it back to Oregon, jack it up in the sky and make a gas station underneath. He laid down $15,000 and asked which one was his to take. The military replied take whichever you want because there were miles of them. Lacey didn’t know how to fly a 4 engine airplane so he read the manual whilst taxing around. The military said Lacey couldn’t take off by himself so he put a mannequin in the co-pilot’s seat and off he went.
He flew around a bit to get the feel of it and when he wanted to land realized a co-pilot was necessary to lower the landing gear. He crashed his plane onto another one the ground. The military wrote them both off as “wind damaged” and told him to pick out another. Crashing them didn’t matter since most of the B17 where up for melting. Lacey talked a friend into being his co-pilot and off they went.
On their way to Oregon they hit a snow storm and couldn’t find their way so they went down below 1,000 feet and followed the railroad tracks. His partner sat in the nose section and would yell, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtunnel’ whenever he saw one and Lacey would climb over the mountain.
They landed safely on the local airport and where getting started to get permits to move the B-17 on the state highway. The highway department repeatedly denied his permit. So one late Saturday night he just moved it himself to find himself being stopped by the police. They wrote a $10 ticket for having too wide a load.
Bomber Gas Station (active: 1947 – 1991, the plane is now a commercial sign)
Superused: Boeing B-17, Flying Fortress, type G (B-17G , produced from 1942-1945)
Milwaukie, Oregon, USA
The picture is made by Danel Roloff in 1968, placed with kind permission http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlr999/365352738/