LOGAN, Utah — The Flying Legends of Victory Tour has landed in Cache Valley.
On Tuesday, Airbase Arizona Commemorative Air Force members landed a World War II-era B-17 bomber entitled “Sentimental Journey” at the Logan-Cache Airport.
The B-17’s arrival is part of a national tour with nearly 50 stops in cities around the United States. The tour involves two warplanes from the Airbase Arizona Flying Museum in Mesa, Arizona. According to a press release from the Arizona Commemorative Airforce, over 12,000 B-17s were built during WWII war effort and “Sentimental Journey” is one of only five currently flying today.
Scott Weaver, the president of Leading Edge Aviation, said hosting the historic bomber in Cache Valley was an effort to help support public awareness of general aviation while also providing a historical perspective.
“These are expensive airplanes to maintain and keep safe,” Weaver said, explaining events and donations are what allow the Arizona Commemorative Air Force to keep their planes in functioning order. “We just wanted to host this and bring a little piece of history to the community.”
George Madok, a co-pilot of Sentimental Journey, said the plane on display in Logan can be differentiated from earlier models, like the famed Memphis Belle, in part by its “chin turret.” Madok said the turret was designed to thwart head-on attacks from German aircraft intending to take out B-17 pilots.
“This is my favorite bomber of all time,” said Madok, explaining the aesthetic of the B-17 appealed to him as a kid building model airplanes. “I always thought it looked the coolest.”
The goal for the tour, according to Madok, is to provide to the modern generations a historical perspective for World War II, as well as an appreciation of what the elder generation “was asked to do, and what they did without complaining.”
“It’s one thing to see one of these either hanging in a museum or in a picture, but to be able to walk through it, touch it, feel it,” Madok said. “It’s a huge perspective.”
The B-17 was initially designed in the 1930s, Madok said, and “Sentimental Journey” was built in November 1944. Madok said each B-17 had a crew of 10 men with an armament of 13 .50 caliber guns stationed throughout the aircraft.
Sentimental Journey “did not serve during WWII in combat,” Madok said. “It did serve in the military, in the Pacific, but just after the war was over.”
Flying with 70-year-old-plus technology, Madok said, requires diligent maintenance to keep the planes in working order. According to Madok, an expert B-17 mechanic and a “big pile of spare parts” are brought along for the tour.
“It’s all mechanical, there’s no solid-state, no electronic anything,” Madok said.
The plane will be accessible to the public through July 11. Ticket prices for ground tours are $10 per person or $20 for a family of four; tickets are available at the gate with no reservation required. Flights in the bomber are also available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; tickets cost $425 for a waist compartment seat and $850 for a bombardier or navigator seat.
“Come out and see it,” Madok said. “Come out early — come out often.”