All eyes were on the sky as the Sentimental Journey flew overhead at the Brandon Municipal Airport on Thursday.
The B-17 Flying Fortress closed out its three-day visit to Brandon alongside four of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum’s flying assets and several other visiting planes in a flying demonstration.
Remembering air shows from when he was a kid, Clint Schmidt brought his son Shane to see the show.
"I used to go and see the Snowbirds," he said. "Those new jets go so fast, it’s cool to see these older planes."
Peeking his head outside the window when he hears the
B-17 fly over at work, Schmidt said he was excited to give that experience to his son.
"Both his grandparents were in the war," he said. "It’s important for him to take in some of that history."
That sentiment was echoed by George Isaak, who drove in from Shoal Lake to watch the show with his wife and granddaughter.
"My brother was a pilot, my son is a pilot and it looks like my grandson is headed that way," he said. "And of course, we’re here to see the old vintage plane in action."
Nobody from his immediate family ever flew in combat, but he did have two cousins from Winnipeg who flew during the war.
"There’s a lot of history in these old machines," he said.
Never has there been this many cars in the airport parking lot, one man volunteering to direct traffic said.
Duncan Griers’ wife volunteers at the museum and convinced her husband to volunteer on a promise of seeing the show.
"She yanked me into it and I rounded up a few other guys," Griers said. "We’ll be able to watch the show and then come back out here again after."
Overflowing from the museum’s parking lot, close to all the airport’s parking spots were full, with some vehicles parking on the side of the road and in the grass.
The museum couldn’t keep track of how many people attended Thursday night’s show because admission was being done at the gate — but an estimated 500 people sat along the grass and bleachers to watch the planes fly above them.
An estimated average of less than 25 people visit the museum daily, but on Tuesday and Wednesday alone 312 people went through its doors.
"It’s a big deal to get that many people in two days," one of the museum’s summer students Kena Olsen said.
The last time the Sentimental Journey was in Brandon was in 1996.
Over the summer the aircraft, built in 1944, is travelling across North America. It stopped in Winnipeg before heading to Brandon and is venturing on today to Yorkton, Sask.
The model was the primary bomber used by the American Air Force against Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Of the 12,731 B-17s originally built, less than 10 remain in flying condition and rarely fly.