The world may never again see bombing campaigns like those carried out in World War II, but for the right price you can experience a pretty good re-creation. Bomber Camp is more than just an aptly named summer camp for history buffs and airplane aficionados — it’s a chance to get some real hands-on experience with the aircraft and even the weapon systems employed throughout World War II.
The one-day Bomber Camp program starts with bombardier classes — where customers are given a crash course in the calculations involved in determining exactly when and where to release the bomber’s payload to hit the target while accounting for the litany of environmental and situational factors that can affect a bomb’s flight path once it’s dropped. From there, you start training as part of a 7-person bomber flight crew; loading ordnance, rotating positions within the B-17 and B-24 bombers, and even firing the bomber’s defensive weapons.
The camp itself grew out of its founder’s passion for history, and, in particular, for World War II. Taigh Ramey’s collection of artifacts and memorabilia eventually led him to found the Stockton Field Aviation Museum in Stockton, California, but he felt as though simply admiring his collection wasn’t doing it justice.
“I’ve been collecting equipment for a long time and I like to keep the equipment operational. Instead of just looking at a static airplane in some museum, I want to bring that stuff to life.” Ramey said. “I would like people to get a glimpse of the environment that the people from our greatest generation flew in and fought in, and that’s the sights and the sounds and the smells of this great old equipment that they built and used during World War II.”
If you want to spend your tax refund doing the sort of work our grandparents complained about, Bomber Camp offers more than just classes and flights aboard period accurate aircraft. You also get to climb into the gunner’s turret where you’ll train to defend your bomber against inbound fighters.
Bomber Camp offers its customers an experience that simply may not exist for generations to come. As time marches on and the ranks of surviving World War II veterans continue to shrink, these operational relics may eventually be the only bits of those real experiences left for us to cling to as we look back on a bygone era. Bomber Camp may be fun and educational, but it’s also a link to our past that you can reach out and touch — including with your trigger finger.
Watch a rundown of Bomber Camp in the video below: