An historic B-17 warbird was stationed at the Kootenay Rockies International Airport from August 20 to 23.

Historic B-17 warbird visits Cranbrook

Kootenay folk flocked to the airport from August 20 to 23 to view a WWII-era B-17 warbird that was visiting from Arizona.

An historic B-17 warbird called the Sentimental Journey is stationed in Cranbrook this week.

The so-called flying museum has been flown in from the Arizona Wing museum in Mesa, Ariz. and will remain on display to the public until Thursday when it is set to take off for Calgary.

On Monday, children and old-timers alike toured the silver warbird, peering into the underbelly of the machine and even putting an eye to the sites on the decommissioned weaponry aboard.

Staff from the Arizona Wing were on hand to answer any questions and provide interesting stories about Sentimental Journey.

B-17 bombers were constructed in the 1940s to serve in World War II. The Sentimental Journey was constructed in 1944  by Boeing. The aircraft has a long history beyond its time in the war.

It was first transferred to Eglin Field in Florida and became an air-sea rescue aircraft. In 1959 it was put into military storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.

Eventually it was sold to a California company and was refurbished into a borate bomber to use on forest fires across the United States.

After it’s foray into fire fighting, it was eventually donated to the Arizona Wing in 1978 where it was returned to its original glory as a World War II-era bomber.

When it’s not touring the country in the summer months, the aircraft remains on display at Arizona Wing. It tours about 60 cities throughout the U.S. each year.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd fans may recognize Sentimental Journey as one of the aircraft used in the movie “1941” that was released in 1979.

Sentimental Journey also took part in U.S. nuclear weapon testing in 1951. The tests used unmanned radio-controlled B-17 drone aircraft to measure blast and thermal effects and to collect radioactive cloud samples.

During the test, a drone aircraft would be taken off by ground control. Then a mother ship, already airborne, would come from behind, take control of the drone, and fly it to the target area. “Sentimental Journey” was one of those mother ships.

With files from Sally MacDonald