A legendary Second World War aircraft will be doing what few of its kind are capable of doing when it flies to Winnipeg for a seven-day visit at the Western Canadian Aviation Museum. It arrives Monday.
Sentimental Journey, a B-17 bomber that flew in the Pacific theatre during the war, is being brought in by the Arizona wing of the Commemorative Air Force. The bomber is one of only two in North America that are still airworthy, said Shirley Render, executive director of the aviation museum. B-17s were used in every theatre of the war, notably to drop bombs on European targets.
The public will be allowed to climb into the plane, which Render says is a great opportunity to see the aircraft and its history up close.
"It's a huge difference from seeing a picture in a book to actually being able to climb right into the plane," she said.
Render said she had been in talks with the Commemorative Air Force for a few years. This year, she said, they approached her about getting the plane to Winnipeg.
The plane is famous for its depiction of 1940s pin-up girl Betty Grable on its nose. The art is similar to that on another B-17, the Memphis Belle, the story of which is the basis of several movies.
Sentimental Journey will arrive with a fully trained flight crew, including two pilots, who will answer questions about how the aircraft works and what its role was in the war. Though none of them flew the plane in that time, Render said they are as knowledgable about the aircraft as possible.
"Virtually any question that anybody asks, they'll be able to answer," Render said.
Render said being able to display the plane is a big deal for the museum, and she hopes it will bring more people to the facility.
"We're bringing literally a piece of history that helped win democracy to Winnipeg... if you can climb up a very short ladder, you can get into the plane and see what it was like to be inside a combat plane, and I think that's pretty special," she said, adding that for those people who can't make the climb, seeing the bomber up close is still a great experience.
Sentimental Journey will arrive at 10 a.m. on Monday and will be on display outside the museum hangar for seven days.