World War II bomber to land in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

World War II bomber to land in Craig

The B17 bomber "Sentimental Journey" swoops in flight. the aircraft was planned to be on display in Craig May 29 through June 3.

CRAIG — A piece of history is flying into Craig this month.

From May 29 through June 3, a World War II-era bomber plane, a B-17 called "Sentimental Journey," will be at the Craig/Moffat Airport.

"This is an opportunity to witness history first-hand, an opportunity to witness a warbird that fought in World War II," said Moffat County Commissioner Ray Beck. "I think this is exciting."

The public can purchase tickets to tour and even fly in the cockpit of the 70-year-old plane. Tours will cost $10 per person and $20 for a family of four. Flights will cost $425 for a seat in the plane's compartment and $850 to ride in the plane's bombardier, or navigator's chair, in the nose of the plane. Eight seats will be available for each flight.

The "Sentimental Journey" was originally manufactured and delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces for service in 1944. In World War II, it flew missions in the Pacific Theater. After the war, the plane was used for training, testing and at-sea rescue missions before being sold for surplus and used as a fire bomber.

In 1978, the bomber was purchased by a Commemorative Air Force member and donated to the newly formed Arizona unit of the Commemorative Air Force. After being meticulously restored, the plane is now maintained in tip-top condition and operated by all-volunteer crews from the membership of the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum, the organization wrote in a news release.

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Only 10 B-17s remain in the world, according to the Commemorative Air Force Museum. Thirteen thousand were produced from 1936 to 1945, 8,000 of those planes were lost in combat. B-17s flew on short- and long-range missions during World War II, and the model dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in the war. It has a 103-foot wingspan and weighs 36,134 pounds when unloaded. It cruises about 16o miles per hour but has a maximum speed of 302 miles per hour. It could carry up to 8,000 pounds of explosives and 13 M2 Browning machine guns in eight positions

Craig is one stop on the plane’s 20-city summer "Flying Legends of Victory Tour," put on by the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum. The museum will fly three restored WWII combat aircraft as part of the tour: the B-17 Bomber landing in Craig, a C-47/DC-3 Combat Legend called "Old Number 30" and a B-25 Bomber called "Maid in the Shade."

"It's going to be a great way to showcase our airport and learn a piece of history," Beck said.

The three planes and their crews will follow separate routes across the U.S. and Canada, visiting about 50 cities between May and October,” the organization wrote in a news release, "to fulfill their mission of educating all generations about the role of aviation in combat."

Tours of the plane will be available from 2 to 5 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. People can ride in the plane between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

To reserve tickets for a tour or flight, visit bit.ly/flovtcraigco, or call 480-462-2992 and press 2.