B-17 Bomber, Sentimental Journey
At the Tillamook Air Museum was the B-17 Bomber, Sentimental Journey. I have no clue why, but this is literally my favorite aircraft ever, so getting to see one in person and be able to touch it and see inside was a big thrill. You can also purchase rides on this plane, but they were fully booked already.
This airplane also happens to be in Hillsboro Oregon from August 10th to August 14th, 2009.
The B-17 Bomber was built by Boeing under contract to the US Army. This airplane literally saved the company from bankruptcy and closure in the 1930′s. Despite the Army’s need, only forty two airplanes existed when Germany attacked Poland in 1939. Twenty of the B-17C variant were delivered to the Royal Air Force where they first saw combat. Lessons learned from that lead to many improvements in the B-17D and B-17E variants.
On August 17,1942, the United States used B-17Es to start bombing German targets at Rouen, France. In all, about 13,000 B-17s were built. The bulk of them were the B-17G variant which had the “chin turret” as this one does.
This particular plane has quite an interesting history in itself. It was built to late to go to Europe, but use in the Pacific against Japan. From 1947 to 1950 she was converted to a photo mapping plane and flew all over the Pacific Ocean doing so. She was then converted to an air-sea rescue plane, before being assigned to the 3215th Drone Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
In 1951 as a member of the 3125th she was a mother ship for drone aircraft during “Operation Greenhouse,” the fourth postwar atmospheric nuclear weapon test series. She was finally retired from military service in early 1959. The Aero Union Corporation of Chico, California purchased and converted her to forest fire duties. She did this for eighteen years and flew at least ten times more missions that she was designed for.
In 1978 she was formally donated to the newly created Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force where she was lovingly restored. The plane went through an extensive re-conversion back to her wartime specifications in 1981. Since then she has been performing at Air Shows around the country. An estimated 80,000 people tour through her every year.