WWII Vets flown over GC in B-17 bomber

June 6, 2016

For most World War II veterans, memories about their time in the service seem far away.

For a few of the Greatest Generation in Garden City, “Sentimental Journey” is a time machine back to their youth.

“Sentimental Journey” is a B-17G Army bomber that was fully restored and now flies across the country as a traveling museum. The bomber is making a stop at the Garden City Regional Airport, where the public can see it starting today and running through Sunday as part of the Flying Legends of Victory Tour.

On Monday, a few members of the local media and some military veterans had the opportunity to take a ride around Garden City in the B-17. One of the veterans who participated in the flight was Burl Lovings, a WWII vet who served with the Navy in the Pacific.

Lovings said watching the bomber land in Garden City is a treasured experience.

“I’ve always wanted to see one of them land,” Lovings said. “With the good weather today, I believe I’ll finally get the chance to see it happen.”

Despite hot weather and high winds, the plane landed safely at Garden City Regional Airport at noon Monday. Several veterans gathered on the tarmac to welcome the bomber as it taxied on the runway, all four engines kicking up dust with a roar.

Jim Kimmel, crew chief of “Sentimental Journey,” said the plane serves as a reminder to everyone of the sacrifice made by those who fought in WWII.

“This is a living, breathing, flying museum,” Kimmel said. “We need to understand history, and where we came from, and why we made those sacrifices.”

Kimmel’s attachment to the B-17 runs deep. His 101-year-old father flew the plane in combat during WWII. After giving a tour of the aircraft, Kimmel and the rest of the aircraft’s crew loaded up the passengers and took off for a two-lap flight around Garden City.

Gorden Allen, who served in the Marine Corps during WWII, said he loved flying in the plane, even though it was a bumpy ride.

“I’ve flown quite a bit before, but nothing quite like this,” Allen said. “I used to see these planes around the military bases during the war, but I never thought I’d get the chance to ride in one. It was certainly worthwhile to go the effort to ride in this. I loved it.”

Lovings was moved by the experience. “Today means a lot to me,” he said. “Looking inside the plane, it’s humbling, thinking about what those boys went through. Those guys were something else. They had quite a job.”

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