Living history from the air

U.S.-based B-17 bomber makes a stop at the Victoria International Airport this week.

Second World War veterans Atholl Sutherland-Brown

Two veterans of the Second World War say keeping aircraft like a restored B-17 bomber in the air not only keeps history alive but honours the people who helped make that history.

On Monday, a B-17 bomber aircraft flew into the Victoria International Airport. Operated by the U.S.-based Commemorative Air Force, the iconic bomber is on the Saanich Peninsula until August 16, offering cockpit tours and flights.

For Victoria veterans Atholl Sutherland-Brown and Tom Burdge, it was a chance to get back into the air, despite not actually having flown in one during their service during the war.

Sutherland-Brown flew Beaufighter long-range fighter-bomber airplanes in the Pacific theatre, while Burdge flew Mosquito fighter-bombers in Europe. Burdge even had a hand in the restoration of a Mosquito at the airport that was completed last year.

“It’s a real part of history,” said Sutherland-Brown, “and we shouldn’t forget it.”

Lt.-Col. (Ret.) Jim Kimmel is one of the pilots of the bomber, alongside copilot Dave  Watson. Kimmel said the aircraft did not see action in the Pacific, where it was sent after it was built in 1944.

After the war, where it was used as a VIP transport plane, it was used in sea rescue operations until 1959 when it was sold to a private company that turned it into a water bomber for 20 years. It was obtained by the Commemorative Air Force in 1978, turned back into its original configuration and today, flied around 150 hours a year.

“It’s very reliable, Kimmel said. “She’ll tell you how she’s doing.”

Christened the Sentimental Journey, the bomber is flying history and education, Kimmel said. Part of the group’s stable of airworthy planes (last year, they brought a B-25 bomber to Victoria), he explained they are used to educate new generations and to honour the air crews who flew to ensure freedom during the Second World War.

It’s the Commemorative Air Force’s mission, Kimmel continued, to provide living history through actual experiences.

Kimmel himself flew F4 and F15 jets during his service with the U.S. Air Force.

The Commemorative Air Force, he noted, attracts all kinds of enthusiasts, working to keep history alive. The group will often re-enact famous air battles and their stable of aircraft has grown from strictly U.S.-made planes, to German and Japanese aircraft.

“When you’re telling a story,” he said, “it pays to have a variety of tools to do that.”

Victoria Flying Club President, Ramona Reynolds, shares the excitement of the B-17 visit.

“All of us at the Victoria Flying Club welcome everyone to join us in experiencing this magnificent piece of aviation history.”

The B-17 bomber is being hosted by the Victoria Flying Club. It will be at the Victoria airport until August 16. It will be on display and in the air from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

For more information about the bomber, visit the flying Club at flyvfc.com or check out the Commemorative Air Force website at azcaf.org.

Just Posted

New Star Cinema project approved

Cameo development gets unanimous council thumbs up

Stelly’s sidewalk gets green light

Federal funding brings project to fruition

Witnesses sought for alleged drunk driver crash in Sidney

Crash happened June 16 on East Saanich Rd. and Canora Dr.

Fake crash warns students about real consequences

Saanich Peninsula emergency crews warn against distracted driving

An upstart ferry company might be a Malahat alternative

A new ferry service might alleviate Malahat congestion. Dogwood Ferries is a… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.’s ‘unicycle cowboy’ aspires to be rancher one day

Burklan Johnson has only ridden a horse once, but this unicyclist has big plans to become a cowboy.

Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

Keep your pets safe while driving

ICBC and SPCA join forces on pet safety awareness initiative

Reports of explosion in Okanagan turn out to be squirrel vs. power line

The noise was described as ‘similar to a shotgun blast’ that shook the Earth

A look at what Canadian teams might do in the 1st round of the NHL draft

Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Edmonton in top 10 of upcoming draft

Seasonal transit changes take effect July 2

Improved service to popular summer destinations

Koko, the gorilla who knew sign language, dies at 46

Western lowland gorilla, 46, died in her sleep in California

California court hears tales of shackled, starved children

David and Louise Turpin have pleaded not guilty to torture, child abuse of their 12 children

Trudeau announces bioregional oceans protection agreement in Prince Rupert

Agreement announced in partnership with 14 central and north cost First Nations

Most Read