I was recently on tour again with the Commemorative Air Force, Airbase Arizona and the B-17G known as "Sentimental Journey". And for the past 5 years I've dedicated my time, photos and energy in support of this wonderful non-profit organization. This tour took me from Paine Field WA to Medford Oregon. I got the privilege of meeting and talking with not 1 WWII Veteran, but 4 including one who was a ball turret gunner like my great uncle.
It began by flying from Friday Harbor to Paine Field via Westwind Aviation (a wonderful charter & flight school on San Juan Island, WA). Once at Paine I was able to tour the amazing aircraft collection of Paul Allen at his Heritage Flight Collection Museum. From Paine we moved the B-17 to Chehalis, WA (KCLS) where I met Louis Stoffer a Flight Engineer on a B-17 with the 398th BG. He came out and stood by the airplane for a day answering questions and recalling accounts of his missions during WWII.
From Chehalis, we went to Tillamook, OR and had to ferry the aircraft a day early due to weather. Flying at about 500 - 1,000 feet AGL over the rolling countryside along the coastal PNW was amazing. Low-lining fog crept into valleys and separated the lush, green forest as we spotted small towns along our route. The Tillamook Air Museum is an amazing and historic structure. Originally there were 2 hangars but sadly, Hangar A was destroyed in 1992 due to a fire. Hangar B remains to this day and continues to wow its visitors. Each hangar could fit 6 football fields inside and each door (6 panels) weighs 180 tons (30 tons per panel / section). The photo features Sentimental Journey parked inside this historic hangar & museum.
The final stop for this tour was in Medford, OR (KMFR) where the crew was graciously hosted by our friends at Jet Center MFR. Here we also met several WWII Veterans including Larry Wills a ball turret gunner with the 95th BG. Larry shared his mission logbook with me and re-lived a few of those missions as he thumbed through his book. Larry and I stood along the ramp and watched as Sentimental Journey departed during one flight. No words were spoken as she rolled past us, rotated and took to the skies. It was several moments later that Larry broke that silence saying that it was great to hear her and see her take to the the skies.