B17-G Bomber "Sentimental Journey" Flies Over Sioux City

A B-17 bomber made a "Sentimental Journey" over Sioux City Tuesday to honor the late Colonel Bud Day, as well as past and present veterans.

On board the first flight was Day's second Cousin Geri Day.

The sound of four 1,200 horsepower engines mustering up enough power to get a 65,000 pound B-17-G Bomber off the runway is one crew members say everyone must hear at least once in their lifetime.

"She's a miracle plane. I love her, and do you know that Betty Grable was 4 months pregnant when they did that picture?" said crew member Linda Smith as she points out Betty Grable's picture. "That's why they did her from behind. Her husband, her widower, actually gave us permission to use her image."

After all Grable was a well known pin-up girl during the World War II era - which is when the "Sentimental Journey" was in its prime.

Each bomber could fit two pilots, a bombardier, radio operator and five gunners. It could hold 13 machine guns and a 9,600 pound bomb load, which earned them a deadly reputation with the Japanese.

The Norden Bomb Sight was a piece of technology that was kept secret during World War II. Every morning someone had to come out and install it, and if the plane ever crashed, it was the bombardier's job to destroy it.

It was so valuable because it was so precise. The bombardier was able to take control of the aircraft and angle it where it needed to be based on the weight of the bomb and the intensity of the wind.

So what makes this one so special? It's one of just 14 flying B-17's left.

"There were 12,700 B17's manufactured for World War II. This was one of the last ones to be manufactured. It was used in the Pacific war, then retired out," said Larry Finley, Executive Director for the Mid America Museum.

It was eventually bought by the Commemorative Air Force, and Tuesday the Flying Fortress flew over Sioux City in honor of the Late Colonel Bud Day. His Cousin Geri came along for the ride.

"If Bud were here, he'd be the first one on the tarmac and ready to board, and I'm sure they would have him in the cockpit. They would have him as a co-pilot if nothing else," said Geri Day.

And the sight of this giant plane brings up memories for Geri, back when B-17's took off from the airfield that's now named for her cousin.

"Now I'm actually going to be able to fly in one of those huge things that I saw flying over when I was a child. I know they're not nearly as huge as they were when I was a kid running out the door looking up above and seeing one of those fly over," she said.

The B-17 will be flying out of the Mid-America Air Museum Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets to tour the plane are $10. It will also be featured at a breakfast and fly-in at Martin Air Field in South Sioux City Sunday from 8am until noon.

You can ride in the plane but that will cost you $425.