Take a “Sentimental Journey” with a B-17G Bomber at the Airport.
The B-17G has a wing span of 103 ft. 9 3/8 inches is 74 ft. 3.9 inches long and has a height of 19 ft. 2.44 inches. It cruises at 160 mph with a top speed of 302 mph.

The B-17G Bomber has a wing span of 103 ft. 9 3/8 inches is 74 ft. 3.9 inches long and has a height of 19 ft. 2.44 inches. It cruises at 160 mph with a top speed of 302 mph.

The B-17G Bomber “Sentimental Journey” that arrived at the Greater Sudbury Airport this week rolled off the Douglas assembly line near the end of 1944, became part of the U.S. Army Air Force on March 13, 1945 and was assigned to the Pacific theatre for the rest of WWII. After the war is was used as a photo mapping plane, an air-sea rescue plane, served as the “mother ship” of a U.S. Drone Squadron and then was put into military storage in 1959. Shortly after, it was purchased and became a civilian air craft flying thousands of forest fire sorties across the United States.

Crew of B-17G Bomber

The crew of the Sentimental Journey  from left to right – Wayne A. Dyer – Flight Crew, Brian Reinke – Loadmaster, Dennis Fennessey – Flight Crew, Cubby Ohlson – Flight Crew, Patrick P. Beals – Loadmaster, Jacob “Jake” Zilber – Flight Crew Chief and Gord Johnsen – Loadmaster who is the lone Canadian.

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) started as a hobby of a small group of ex-service pilots in Texas who pooled their money to purchase a P-51 Mustang in 1957. The group realized that of the 300,000 aircraft produced by the U.S. almost all of them were gone and they decided to form a non-profit group “… to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.” Today the CAF has units in 26 states and 4 foreign countries, more than 13,000 members and a fleet or “ghost squadron” of more than 165 aircraft.

The B-17G Bomber was nicknamed the "Flying Fortress" by a news reporter at it's unveiling and Boeing liked the name they adopted it. The wings of a B-17G were covered with a fabric as enemy fire would do less damage than if the wings were made of full steel.

The B-17G Bomber was nicknamed the “Flying Fortress” by a news reporter at its unveiling and Boeing liked the name so they adopted it. The wings of a B-17G were covered with a fabric as enemy fire would do less damage than if the wings were made of full steel.

The Arizona Wing of the CAF was formed in 1978 and the Sentimental Journey B-17G was donated to the unit becoming their first aircraft. Volunteers of the unit began the long process of restoration returning the plane to its original specifications. Of the 12,731 B-17s originally built only 50 remain in existence and only 10 are airworthy.

Cockpit of B-17G Bomber

The pilot and co-pilot were part of a crew of ten in each bomber. Unlike other planes, B-17 bombers flew during the day so that pilots could see their exact targets. Pilots flew the planes in precise combat formation so that bombs released would fall past bombers flying above and below and hit precise targets.

With restoration underway, the Arizona Wing of the CAF held a contest to name the B-17G and “Sentimental Journey” from Doris Day’s song of the same name was the winner. One in every five American servicemen during the war owned the iconic pin-up photo of Betty Grable which became the number one pin-up of WWII and after securing permission from her former husband, Grable’s famous pose was painted on the nose of the bomber.

The view from the Bomardier's seat located below the pilots. The navigator sat just behind him.

The view from the Bombardier’s seat located below the pilots. The Navigator sat just behind him with his small table full of maps.

Today the “Sentimental Journey” visits an average of 20 cities, most for a week at a time, in the United States and Canada every year during the summer months including this year’s Flying Legends of Victory Tour that is here at Greater Sudbury Airport until Sunday August 21st. In the winter Arizona Wing of the CAF stays closer to home and has weekend events in the Arizona and California areas. The B-17G Bomber flew here with a crew of ten who are knowledgeable in all facts relating to the plane, are wonderful storytellers and have a great sense of humour. They love their planes and, as volunteers are dedicated to preserving their history.

The gunner crew which consisted of a tail gunner, a left and right waist gunner, top turret gunner and ball turret gunner occupied this main area during takeoffs and landings until they moved into fighting positions.

The gunner crew which consisted of a Tail Gunner, a left and right Waist Gunner, Top Turret Gunner and Ball Turret Gunner occupied this main area during takeoffs and landings until they moved into fighting positions.

Since it is a non-profit organization they rely on the money they can raise through admission and donations for their shows. The operational cost for bringing this B-17G Bomber here is expensive as it costs $3000/hour of flight in maintenance and fuel.

The radio operator had his own table and equipment near the front of the plane. You can see the photo of Betty Grable next to the window.

The radio operator had his own table and equipment near the front of the plane. You can see the photo of Betty Grable next to the window.

Tours are available from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. Adult admission at the Greater Sudbury Airport is $5/person and and there is a family rate of $10 available. Veterans and active military in uniform are invited to visit at no cost.

Each B-17G had a right and a left Waist Gunner who operated one of the 13 - 50 caliber machine guns on board. In flight, temperatures could reach -40 and the crew wore oxygen masks since there was no insulation or sealed window coverings and special electrically heated suits (which sometimes caught fire).

Each B-17G had a right and a left Waist Gunner who operated one of the 13 – 50 caliber machine guns on board. In flight, the crew needed to wear oxygen masks and since temperatures could reach -40 special electrically heated suits (which sometimes caught fire) were a necessity. Prior F models of the B-17  had no window coverings but in the G model plexiglass coverings were added so gunners didn’t have to stand in the freezing slipstream.

Everyone can actually go inside the B-17G to explore and it’s fascinating and gives you a better understanding of the pilots and crews’ bravery, courage and will to survive that was necessary to win the war.

Tail Gunner on a B-17G Bomber.

The Tail Gunner sat alone in the back of the bomber operating two machine guns that had a limited range of movement. A tour of duty during WWII consisted of 25 combat missions. Life expectancy of a bombing crew was just 15 missions.

In addition to ground tours of the aircraft, flights will be offered to the public for a fee. You can call 778-668-0417 or speak to one of the crew at the show. Just follow the event signs at the Greater Sudbury Airport for directions to the “Sentimental Journey”.

Ball Turret Gunner

The ball turret gunner sat inside with his knees drawn up to his chin, swivelling in all directions and trying to pick off the enemy with his 50 caliber machine guns.

For more information follow the Flying Legends of Victory Tour on Facebook or visit the CAF Arizona Wing website.

During the many tours, Veterans and others such as people who worked on constructing the aircraft visit. The crew of the Sentimental Journey encourage them to sign the inside of the bomb doors as well as their remembrances of their tour of duty.

During the many tours, Veterans and others such as people who worked on the original construction of the aircraft visit. The crew of the Sentimental Journey encourage them to sign the inside of the bomb doors as well as add their remembrances of their tour of duty.

Here is a video from World Documentary Films  that shows the B-17 Bombers in action, with interviews of Ball Turret Gunners and actual footage from WWII if you want to learn more.

By 1934 there were 3,914 cars and 400 commercial vehicles in the Sudbury District.
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Close to 8.7 million trees have been planted in the Sudbury region since 1979 as part of the ongoing Land Reclamation Program.

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