The route followed by the bomber stream was designed to keep the Fortresses offshore for as long as possible. They flew in a succession of straight lines that inscribed a kind of "big dipper" on a flat map, with the right-hand bottom of the dipper marking the spot where they crossed the Dutch coast, turned east, and began traveling more or less directly toward Berlin very far to the east of Germany. One of the bomber pilots was 1st Lt. Charles B. "Chuck" Alling Jr., at the controls of a Fortress named Miss Prudy of the 4th Bombardment Squadron, 34th Bombardment Group, the Mendlesham-based outfit that included copilot 1st Lt. Robert Des Lauriers and toggleer Tech. Sgt. Ray Fredette. Miss Prudy was a path finder, flying squadron lead.
In an interview later, Alling said that the pilot's job was demanding because he could never stop monitoring the progress of the aircraft, never pause, and never rest. The hardest part was staying alert, watching instruments, keeping air speed at a steady 155 miles per hour and holding formation while there was nothing in particular going on. "There is an old adage about how military life consists of, "Hurry up and wait;" Alling recalled . "That's difficult when you're staring at round dials, keeping watch outside, and maintaining a vigil over every little aspect of your plane's performance."
In his diary, toggleer Fredette wrote something similar about Fancy Nancy's pilot, 1st Lt. Gordon F. Barbaras, who was very much admired by his crew:
Flying a four-engine bomber in a close tight formation is no easy task. The numerous instruments on the instrument panel are sufficient testimony to the constant close attention a pilot must pay. With the throttle in one hand and the control yoke in the other, it is a grueling task for a pilot, from the time engines are started to the time the bomber returns and is safely parked on the hardstand. There is no moment of rest or relaxation for the pilot. True enough, the copilot is there to assist him and relieve him at the controls but the responsibility is his every second of a flight.
Fredette thought that being a timekeeper in civilian life helped Barbaras as a Fortress pilot in wartime. "To know Barbaras is to know why he became a bomber pilot. His very appearance is typical of one. His height and stature slated him for the heavies. However, I suspect that in his heart Barbaras always wanted to be a fighter pilot. The dash, speed, and individuality of the fighter pilot no doubt must have had greater appeal to him than the responsible task of flying in a comparatively slow bomber:" Fredette said.
Miss Prudy pilot Alling may have been a little less imposing. In a photo, he appears average size, perhaps five foot, ten inches tall. He exudes the look of calm and competence that was de rigueur for Fortress pilots who were not only superb airmen but leaders of men.
Once over the continent, accompanying his group about two-thirds of the way back in the bomber stream, Alling observed something that no other crewmember, that day, seems to recall. In his memoir, A Mighty Fortress, Alling wrote: "Just before reaching the target, a German fighter flew directly through our squadron from the rear, and in front of us to the left whereupon his plane did a pirouette on its tail, like a ballet dancer, and then exploded. We flew right through the mass of exploding metal, a piece of which tore into our left wing. Somehow, all the planes in our squadron survived as they flew through the remains of the German plane."