The centerpiece of an event planned for later this month is a piece of flying history, according to one of the organizers of the Great Bend Municipal Airport Air Festival and Fly-In, set for Sept. 17 through 19.
Airport Manager Martin Miller said the event, which is free all three days, will feature one of the few remaining B-17 Flying Fortresses still operating.
Miller said the event will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, beginning with the arrival and, hopefully, low-level flyover by the historic B-17 World War II bomber.
The B-17, as well as a C-45 and a C-47, will be available for flights and tours during the event, the airport manager added.
He said that “Sentimental Journey” will arrive at Great Bend Airport at noon on Sept. 16 and will be on display until the aircraft departs the following Monday.
It’s an important piece of history and the plane, according to Miller, “is a flying museum and memorial to the men who flew and crewed these airplanes, as well as the men and women who built and delivered them more than 60 years ago and to the crews that did not return. The B-17 Flying Fortress was famous for daylight bombing raids over Germany during World War II and could sustain such significant battle damage that the aircraft lived up to its name, the Flying Fortress.
“Out of 12,731 built there are only about 10 restored and airworthy examples remaining. For the airplane enthusiast, it’s an opportunity to have a museum come to the visitor instead of the traditional other way around.”
Sentimental Journey will be brought to Great Bend by the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, which “is an all-volunteer organization whose members are dedicated to preserving aviation history and wartime memorabilia for future generations. The Arizona Wing primary mission is to maintain and operate aircraft from World War II to Vietnam,” according to information from the group.
“The Arizona Wing is located at 2017 N. Greenfield Rd. at Falcon Field Airport in Mesa. For more information call 480-924-1940 or visit the website www.azcaf.org.”
Throughout the event there will also be raffles for free flights on the B-17, all sorts of snacks and food available, and a special remote control night show, planned for Saturday evening.
Miller said flyers from all around this area are being contacted with special invitations to fly-in, but the event should be of interest to the local public, even if they have to drive out to the airport.