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Sentimental Journey on a New Mission: Memory Lane

November 26, 1987|PHILIPP GOLLNER

Sentimental Journey, the world's only fully restored Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, will make a two-day stop in Santa Monica to display its shiny silver fuselage, authentic machine gun turrets and cavernous bomb bay and bring back memories of America's golden age of aviation.

The plane is scheduled to arrive at Santa Monica Airport on Friday and will be open to the public outside the Douglas Aerospace Museum from 9 a.m. to sundown Saturday and Sunday, said John D. Wolven, spokesman for the Arizona Wing of the Confederate Air Force, a private organization that collects and restores World War II-era planes.

The plane was donated to the group in 1978 by four aviation enthusiasts who bought it from a company that used it for borate bombing of brush and forest fires. Members spent five years restoring the plane and mounting equipment.

"It's a real labor of love," Wolven said. "No one has even come close to estimating how much it cost them" to restore the plane.

The bomber is being displayed in 65 cities across the nation this year to pay for its upkeep and operation, which averages about $2,000 per hour of flight time, Wolven said. Organizers ask a $3 donation for tours of the plane.

Although Sentimental Journey never flew in combat, it was used for photo reconnaissance and air-sea rescue operations before being retired from military service in 1959.

One of the bomber's crew members, Sgt. Floyd E. Henderson, was the plane's crew chief during its first assignments in the Philippines in 1946. Sentimental Journey's pilot and co-pilot flew other B-17's during the war, Wolven said.

"We're preserving a piece of America's history," Wolven said.

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