Flight plan — 'Sentimental Journey' back to help educate, entertain

5/28/2014

An important piece of aviation history touched down this week in Garden City as part of a mission to educate and entertain.

An important piece of aviation history touched down this week in Garden City as part of a mission to educate and entertain.

"Sentimental Journey," the spectacular B-17 bomber now on display at Garden City Regional Airport, is making a return visit, with tours and rides available.

Visitors young and old should enjoy the look back in time.

B-17s are among historic warplanes saved by organizations that take time to restore the vintage aircraft and keep them airworthy.

Thanks to such labors of love, the nation still has a number of flying museums in B-17s, B-52 Stratofortresses and other notable warplanes.

Each one has a story to tell.

Development of the four-engine B-17 bomber — known as the Flying Fortress due to its defensive firepower — began in the 1930s. More than 12,000 B-17s were produced, with many used in bombing missions during World War II.

The bomber later named "Sentimental Journey" was put into service by the United States in March 1945.

The flying museum in town through June 1 displays the markings of the 457th Bombardment Group, a B-17 Flying Fortress unit that carried out more than 200 combat missions over Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany during World War II.

Decades later, "Sentimental Journey" is on a mission to educate and inspire new generations of Americans.

The public is invited to check out the bomber for free. For $5, visitors can go inside for a closer look.

Those interested in learning more about what it was like to be part of a B-17 mission may go on a flight for $425, or $850 for a nose seat.

Funds collected help keep the B-17 traveling from coast to coast for appearances at air shows and other venues.

Americans have much to learn from such a brush with history. By taking in artifacts of war along with veterans' recollections, people can better understand and appreciate the contributions of our military forces.

Without efforts to keep the stories of war alive — whether through veterans sharing their memories or groups showcasing war artifacts like the B-17 bomber — many important chapters in history could fade away over time.

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