Atlanta Warbird Weekend Announces Dates & Ride Flights

Atlanta-Warbird-Weekend-LogoWARBIRD RADIO – One of the last flying B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, “Sentimental Journey,” will lead a flight of vintage World War II aircraft to Peachtree Dekalb-Airport (KPDK),and inaugurate the Atlanta Warbird Weekend, September 27-28, 2014.  According to a recent news release, cockpit tours and flights will be available in the B-17 and other aircraft, including a P-51 Mustang and rare SBD Dauntless dive bomber.

When first flown in 1934, the four-engine B-17 was one of the most advanced designs in the world.  During World War II, the aircraft was the primary bomber used by the United States Army Air Forces on long range missions against Nazi Germany.  Of the 12,731 B-17s originally built, 4,750 were lost in combat.  Only fifty airframes are known to exist around the world and less than a dozen are capable of flight.

The Atlanta Warbird Weekend is a first-time project between two chapters of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), Airbase Arizona located in Mesa, AZ and the Peachtree City, GA based Dixie Wing. Established in Texas in 1957 as a 501c3 education non-profit, the CAF is the oldest and largest World War II flying museum in the United States, dedicated to restoring and preserving in flying condition examples of aircraft flown by the United States during the Second World War.

“Atlanta is home to the busiest airport in the world” said Jay Bess, the CAF Dixie Wing Marketing Officer “and Georgia is a state that has thrived on aviation commerce for nearly 100 years.  Our vision is to create an annual event that celebrates an important era of America’s aviation history.”

Aviation is a vital element of Georgia’s economy.  A study published in 2011 by the Georgia Department of Transportation estimated total economic impact of Georgia’s 104 publicly-owned, public-use airports at $62 billion annually.
As public fascination in World War II aircraft continues to grow, aviation-minded communities across the country are hosting aircraft tour stops as an alternative to more complex and expensive air shows.

Bess explained the purpose of Atlanta Warbird Weekend: “Our goals are to teach World War II history, increase awareness of the Commemorative Air Force in Atlanta and raise much needed funds for the restoration, maintenance and operation of these aircraft.  Seeing these planes in the air brings history alive in a way a museum, textbook or video never will.”
Veterans groups and education displays will also be on hand.

Peachtree-Dekalb Airport was used as a Naval Air Station during World War II, training thousands of Navy and Marine pilots.  Today, the airport handles 200,000 aircraft operations each year and is known for hosting community events promoting aviation.
Joining the Flying Fortress will be a North America P-51 Mustang, considered by most historians to be the best all-round fighter and premier bomber escort of the Second World War.  The B-17 and P-51 are often remembered as stable mates, with bomber crews nicknaming the protecting fighters “Little Friends”.  Fighter pilots in turn referred to the bombers as “Big Friends”.  A ride in a Flying Fortress or Mustang is a life long dream for many aviation and history enthusiasts.

Organizers will also host “Big Friends, Little Friends” Dinner & Symposium at the 1940s-themed 57th Fighter Group Restaurant Saturday evening.  Noted author and historian, Bruce Gamble will give a B-17 presentation and moderate a bomber and fighter pilot panel discussion.

Sentimental Journey has been continuously flown since it was manufactured in 1944, performing missions from military reconnaissance to drone “mother ship” during nuclear testing, as well as firefighting, before being retired after three decades of service.

In 1978, the aircraft was donated to the then-named Arizona Wing based in Mesa, Arizona.  Volunteers have meticulously restored the Flying Fortress to full military specifications, painting the B-17 in the markings of the 457th Bomb Group as a tribute to all aircrew who served during WWII.  The aircraft also features artwork recreating a classic Betty Grable pin-up photo well known to GIs, sailors and Marines of The Greatest Generation.  A local media contest produced the name Sentimental Journey from over 800 entries.

Sentimental Journey has been touring North America since the early 1980s and makes 60 stops annually.  2014 will mark the first return of the B-17 to Georgia since 1999.  An unforgettable flight inside Sentimental Journey and other aircraft start at $425 per person.

Cockpit tours are only $5; ground viewing and photo opportunities are free to the visiting public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, Sept 27th-28th.

QUICK LINK:  Atlanta Warbird Weekend

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