Angela and Jim Temple pose in front of the Second World War B-17 Sentimental Journey at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum on Tuesday before Jim boarded the 11 a.m. flight. The rare aircraft is offering flights for a price and will be on display at the museum until Thursday.
(LINDSEY ENNS/BRANDON SUN)
Cost or distance didn’t stop Angela Temple from securing a seat for her husband on the Second World War B-17, Sentimental Journey, flying out of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum this week.
The $450 plane ticket would be her gift to him for his 58th birthday.
"When I found out, I booked it right away," she said. "I know my husband is a super aircraft enthusiast."
The couple drove to Brandon on Monday from their home in Cooks Creek so that they wouldn’t miss a thing.
"It was very last minute but we were able to make it work," she said.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 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 they rarely fly regularly.
The warplane landed in Brandon on Monday evening and until Thursday, residents are being given the opportunity to fly in the bomber.
Tickets to fly are $450, for a seat in the waist of the plane, and window seats at the nose are going for $900.
"I’m a boomer that gets to go up in the bomber," Temple said, waiting patiently to board the aircraft Tuesday. "Although we’re not having anybody shooting at us, it still gives you that feeling cause it’s bare bones, it’s not like sitting in a 767 with all the creature comforts … so you really get a feel for how harsh it would’ve been back then fighting for your life."
The Temples both come from military backgrounds. Angela served in the military for 25 years and Jim’s father served in the Second World War.
"He would watch these planes going over in droves heading towards Germany during the war and when I told him the other day he sorta said, ‘I wish I was going instead of you on a flight like this,’" Jim said, referring to his father. "He’s seen them flying but never had a chance to fly in one so it’s sort of a good way of commemorating my dad’s time in the Second World War."
Flights are scheduled for 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. today and Thursday. The 11 a.m. flight today is reserved for local media and a few CFB Shilo soldiers.
All of the flights, each with room for eight passengers, are fully booked and there are also 20 people on a waiting list, volunteer ride co-ordinator Linda Tollas said. They planned to only offer flights for two days this week, but extended it another day to accommodate the demand, she said.
"We’re full to the rafters, we have a waiting list and we’re putting on two more flights on Thursday morning, just because of the demand."
Local resident Bill Stadnyk said he was lucky to secure his seat on the first flight to take off Tuesday morning.
"It’s off my bucket list now," he said, moments after getting off the plane. "I just thoroughly enjoyed the flight."
Stadnyk said he’s always had an interest in aviation and to be able to fly in something like this "is just very special."
"I keep thinking of ‘awesome,’ that’s the only word I can think of."
Those interested in seeing the bomber up close can visit the museum today between noon and 2:30 p.m. The cost is $7.50 and an additional $5 donation gets you on the aircraft. On Thursday, gates at the museum will open at 1 p.m. with artillery on display and an air demonstration at 5:30 p.m.
"All the money that we raise for this aircraft while we are on tour goes back in to keeping the airplane flying," Tollas said. "It costs us $50,000 to refurbish one engine … so all of this keeps her in the air."
Before the plane landed in Brandon on Monday, it was in Winnipeg, giving Temple his first chance to see it up close.
"I just wanted to have a look at the plane and just get on board," he said. "I hope the crew having to fly that plane is a lot shorter than me because it’s a tight squeeze. I was on my hands and knees crawling around in there."
Before taking his seat on board, Temple was hoping the flight would take him back in time.
"Just the feel of what the men had to put up with for noise and smell and vibrations and just overall feel what it would’ve been like to be an air crew back in the 1940s."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 21, 2013