Aero Club to hear from WWII B-17 pilot





A World War II B-17 pilot who was shot down over Germany during his 16th mission will be guest speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) meeting Monday, February 20 at the Sun Lakes Country Club. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with coffee and camaraderie, followed by the presentation at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend.


Sun Lakes resident John Stravers says his B-17 was hit by flak on its way to Germany during a bombing mission in 1945. “We knew we couldn’t continue to our target, so we turned and headed for the Russian lines,” he said. “All of our crew members bailed out except for one. I was the last one out before the airplane, still carrying a full bomb load, exploded.”


Once on the ground, Stravers gathered his remaining crew members and was met by Russian soldiers, who escorted them to safety. It took the group over a month to get back to their base in Italy.


Stravers said his squadron had little opposition from German fighters thanks to fighter escort provided by the Tuskeegee Airmen, flying P-51s. Flying at 30,000 feet, well above our formations, the P-51s successfully escorted us to and from our bombing runs, he said.


Now in its 16th year, SLAC meets the third Monday of each month from October through May at the Sun Lakes Country Club Mirror Room. More information on the club is available from Bob Walch, 480-895-8869 or Gary Vacin, 480-802-0104.