A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress will come to Suffolk Sept. 8-14, offering tours and flights. It’s a must-see for kids, veterans, aviation enthusiasts and history buffs, said its flight crew chief scheduler. (Submitted Photo)
A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress will come to Suffolk Sept. 8-14, offering tours and flights. It’s a must-see for kids, veterans, aviation enthusiasts and history buffs, said its flight crew chief scheduler. (Submitted Photo)

WWII B-17 to visit Suffolk

Published 9:43pm Friday, August 29, 2014

One of the last flying World War II B-17 bombers will pay a weeklong visit to Suffolk Sept. 8-14, offering tours and flights.

One of about 13,000 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses built, the plane, named “Sentimental Journey,” will be at the Suffolk Executive Airport, a visit co-hosted by the Old Dominion Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force.

“I would encourage people to come see living history,” said Dennis Fennessey, flight crew chief scheduler, who will arrive in Suffolk with the plane. “Most of the people who will see this machine weren’t even around during World War II.”

Boeing and its contractors churned out about 13,000 B-17s during the war. More than 900 were lost in combat over Europe, with a loss of nearly 10,000 airmen, the majority of them members of the U.S. 8th Air Force.

“Sentimental Journey,” which is one of only about 10 World War II B-17s still in flying condition, was built in December 1944 by the Douglas Corporation in California. It was used for administrative and search and rescue missions in the Pacific theater but never saw combat, Fennessey said.

Following the war, the plane performed military mapping reconnaissance, nuclear testing and firefighting before being retired. It was donated to the Arizona Wing in 1978 and restored to full military specifications. It has toured North America since the early 1980s, being maintained and operated as a flying museum and veterans’ memorial by the non-profit Commemorative Air Force.

“I think it’s a great thing for people to take their kids to, because kids today don’t get much in the way of education about World War II, and certainly even less in the way of World War II military aviation,” Fennessey said.

He said veterans, aviation enthusiasts and history buffs also are likely to be especially interested.

“It’s a piece of living history,” he said. “It’s a way to understand something about a part of our history we’re forgetting more and more all the time, but which was an important part of our history. It’s all about experiencing a war that consumed the world, and which fortunately we were on the winning side of.”

He encouraged folks to come see the plane because “there’s going to be a day when they’re not flying anymore.”
Ground viewing opportunities are free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Cockpit tours on Monday through Thursday are $5.

Flying opportunities Friday through Sunday are also available. Seats in the midsection of the plane are $425 apiece. Folks will be able to “get up and walk around, take pictures, play with the guns — not literally,” Fennessey said.

A seat with less freedom but more prestige — that of the bombardier and navigator — is available for $850 each.

Also on site during the week of the B-17’s visit will be other aircraft from the Old Dominion Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force, a free exhibition tent with vintage bombing gear and authentic uniforms, and more.

Call 602-448-9415 or email b17rc@azcaf.org for flight reservations.

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