The “Sentimental Journey” and Betty Grable are coming to Albany.
A B-17 G Flying Fortress bomber built in 1944, the “Sentimental Journey” is based in Mesa, Arizona and frequently flies to airshows throughout North America. The plane and the iconic image of World War II pinup Betty Grable that adorns its nose cone will be at the Albany Airport Monday through Sunday, Aug. 27.
The “Sentimental Journey” is part of the Flying Legends of Victory Tour, and its Albany stop will include an appearance by the SNJ-14Trainer from the Buffalo Heritage Squadron in Akron, N.Y. Tours of the B-17 are $10, and a limited number of individuals will have the opportunity to take a ride on the plane for $425 (compartment seats) and $850 (bombardier/navigator seats). Tours will be available from 2-6 p.m. Monday, Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m-2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Rides on the Sentimental Journey will be offered Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Tickets for rides on the SNJ-14 Trainer are $360.
Three separate tours are currently working their way across the U.S. Along with the “Sentimental Journey,” other planes making their way across the U.S. and Canada are the B-17 “Old Number 30” and B-25 “Maid in the Shade.” They will visit approximately 50 cities between June and October.
“The Sentimental Journey” is just one of 10 B-17s in the world that is still flying. Nicknamed the Flying Fortress, the B-17 was a valuable weapon during World War II because of its ability to suffer extensive battle damage and still return home. There were 13,000 produced between 1936-45.
The “Sentimental Journey” was built by Douglas Aircraft in late 1944 and had its first flight on March 13, 1945. The plane was assigned to the Pacific theater for the duration of the war, and wound up at Clark Field in Manila in 1947 doing photo-mapping work. It was modified several times in the 1950s and in 1951 was involved in “Operation Greenhouse,” a series of postwar atmospheric nuclear weapon tests.
It remained in service until 1959 when it was transferred to military storage at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Later that year it was purchased by Aero Union Corporation of Chico, California and served as a forest fire fighter throughout the U.S. for 18 years.
In 1978 it was donated to the newly formed Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. The plane wasn’t given its name, “Sentimental Journey,” or its Betty Grable image until 1979. The plane was altered in 1981, undergoing a series of changes to restore it to its original form.
The plane is now owned by the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum, founded in 1977 and comprised of 500 volunteer members and seven flyable warbirds that offer educational programs and living history rides. The museum is ranked by Trip-Advisor as the top-rated attraction in the Phoenix area.
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