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A Sentimental Journey aboard a B-17

One of the last flying WWII B-17 bombers, “Sentimental Journey,” will be available for cockpit tours and flights at Culpeper Regional Airport, August 25th – 31st, 2014. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was the primary bomber used by the American Air Force against the industrial strength of Nazi Germany, and is widely acknowledged as having turned the tide of World War II. Of the almost 13,000 B-17s originally built, less than ten remain in flying condition and only a very few fly regularly. More than 900 B-17s were lost in combat over Europe, with a loss of nearly 10,000 airmen; the US 8th Air Force suffering the majority of those losses. “Sentimental Journey” proudly displays markings of the 457th Bomb Group in their remembrance. Nose art of the “Sentimental Journey” features the sassy Betty Grable, in her famous pose as the number-one pin-up girl of the World War II era. The aircraft is named after a song made popular by Doris Day in 1945. Sentimental Journey is maintained and operated as a flying museum and veterans’ memorial by the all-volunteer non-profit Commemorative Air Force. Built during 1943, this heavy bomber has been continuously flown, performing missions from military reconnaissance to drone “mother ship” during nuclear testing, as well as firefighting, before being retired. It was donated to Airbase Arizona in 1978, restored to full military specification, and has been touring North America since the early 1980s. This visit will be hosted by the National Capitol Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force, who will have other aircraft on display, including a Vultee BT-13 Valiant, also available for rides, and activities including a fly-in and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. The Sentimental Journey is based at the Arizona Airbase of the Commemorative Air Force located at Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona. Organized in 1978, the CAF’s mission is to restore and preserve historically important aircraft and related memorabilia in order to educate the public about the significant contributions made by men and women in the defense of our nation.

Following is a collection of photos taken by Free Lance-Star photography intern Scott Julian during Tuesday’s media flight.

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One of the last flying WWII B-17 bombers, “Sentimental Journey,” stands parked at the Culpeper Regional Airport on Tuesday, August 26, 2014. The plane will be available for cockpit tours and flights at Culpeper Regional Airport, August 25th – 31st, 2014.

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B-17 Pilot Fred Dewitt cleans a window prior to takeoff.

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B-17 bomber steering wheel. SCOTT JULIAN / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

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B-17 Flight Engineer, Troy Smith completes a pre-flight inspection with Brandon Feagan, 21 of RichardsVille, VA. Feagan is part of a youth program, which sponsors youngsters to get their Airframe and Powerplant licenses.

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Peter Hague, Ride Team Coordinator goes over some of the features on the WWII B-17 bomber, “Sentimental Journey.”

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B-17 Pilot, Fred Dewitt rotates the props. SCOTT JULIAN / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

B-17 Pilot, Fred Dewitt rotates the props.

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(Left-Right) B-17 Flight Engineer, Troy Smith goes over a checklist with pilot Fred Dewitt prior to starting the aircraft.

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Aerial view from the nose of the aircraft. (SCOTT JULIAN / THE FREE LANCE-STAR)

Aerial view of Culpeper from the bombardier’s position in the nose of the aircraft.

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An antique photo hangs over the navigator’s desk inside the WWII B-17 bomber, “Sentimental Journey.”

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The silhouette of the WWII B-17 bomber, “Sentimental Journey, glides over a farmer’s field just outside of Culpeper during a media flight.

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