Sunday, January 16, 2022

Historic WWII B-17 Bomber Back in Chico

CHICO — Tours and flights in a World War II-era B-17G Flying Fortress bomber will be offered today September 19 at Chico Municipal Airport, hosted by the Chico Air Museum.

The museum will be closed on Mondays, with no tours on that day.

The B-17, now named Sentimental Journey, is part of the Commemorative Air Force fleet touring the country.

Brian Baldridge, president of the Chico Air Museum, said it was a homecoming of sorts for the B-17, which was deployed as a firefighting aircraft at Chico, and was photographed around 1967 in front of the hangar that now houses the museum. Is.

The Chico Air Museum is excited to bring the plane back to Chico, Baldridge noted.

Visitors at Chico Airport take photos of a WWII-era B-17 bomber named Sentimental Journey on Thursday. The plane will be at the Chico Air Museum in Chico, California for ground tours and flights beginning today, Sept. 10. (Steve Schoonover/Enterprise-Record)

According to, “On January 27, 1959, the aircraft was transferred to military storage at Davis-Manthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. After a few months of storage, (it was) the Aero Union Corporation of Chico, Acquired by California, received civil aircraft registration: N-9323Z. For 18 years, the converted bomber flew as a forest firefighter throughout the United States. ”

Baldridge said the aircraft was known as Tanker 17 throughout its firefighting life, and was converted back to its original configuration as a bomber in the late 70s.

Access to the aircraft this week will be through the Chico Air Museum at 165 Ryan Avenue, starting Sept. 10 at 9 a.m.

According to the Commemorative Air Force, the aircraft is “extraordinarily rare”, being one of only a few B-17Gs in the world still flying. According to the aircraft’s background sheet, roughly 13,000 were produced from 1936 to 1945. It was built in November 1944.

Of the trip, Baldridge said, “Our inspiration is that many veterans of WWII come out with their children and grandchildren to see, ride, or travel on this airplane. This airplane is the epitome of living history.” An incredible piece, and a rare tribute to the heroes who fought and flew in World War II.”

The ground tour of the aircraft will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Friday, September 10 to Sunday, September 12. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Starting Tuesday, September 14, the ground tour will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except when the airplane is flying. It is scheduled to start flying and providing rides from 9 am to 1 pm on 17th, 18th and 19th September.

Airplane ground tours are $10 per person or $20 for four tickets available at the gate. Reservation is not required. The ride is $425 or $850, depending on seating. Flight reservations can be made online at or by calling 480-462-2992.

Organizers are requested that social distancing guidelines be followed, and local mask guidelines to be followed.

The Chico Air Museum is a non-profit aviation museum featuring educational exhibits, as well as indoor and outdoor aircraft displays. Its normal summer operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, except for special events.

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