World War II B-17 Making a Stop in Bismarck
World War II and aviation aficionados alike will be excited to learn that a World War II B-17, named Sentimental Journey, will be flying into the Bismarck Aero Center Labor Day Weekend!
Exact times for Sentimental Journey's arrival have not yet been finalized.
According to "The Story of the Sentimental Journey":
Sentimental Journey rolled off the Douglas assembly line in late 1944, and was accepted by the U.S. Army Air Force on March 13, 1945. Manufactured too late to see service in the European war, the aircraft was assigned to the Pacific theater for the duration of the war. In 1947, the aircraft was removed from storage in Japan and assigned to Clark Field in Manila as a photo-mapping plane. For nearly three years she served in that capacity, flying to all corners of the Pacific in the configuration of a RB-17G.
Sentimental Journey was then transferred to Eglin Field, Florida, and was converted to a DB-17G for service as an air-sea rescue craft. During the 1950's, B-17 serial number 4483514 was converted once again to become a DB-17P, serving with the 3215th Drone Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. During this time Sentimental Journey participated in “Operation Greenhouse,” the fourth postwar atmospheric nuclear weapon test series conducted by the United States during the spring of 1951. This test used unmanned, radio controlled B-17 drone aircraft to measure blast and thermal effects and to collect radioactive cloud samples. During the test, a drone aircraft would be taken off by ground control. A “mother ship,” already airborne, would then come from behind, take control of the drone and fly it to the target area. Sentimental Journey served as a mother ship for this nuclear testing. On January 27, 1959, final military orders were cut, transferring the airplane to military storage at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Within a few months, 83514 was acquired by the Aero Union Corporation of Chico, California, and became a civilian aircraft as N-9323Z, the registration which remains with her to date. For the ensuing eighteen years, an aircraft that had been designed to survive no more than a hundred missions, flew literally thousands of sorties against forest fires throughout the country.
For more information on Sentimental Journey, you can visit the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force's website HERE
For more details on the Bismarck Aero Center, visit their official website HERE