WWII bomber on display in Joplin; flights available - KOAM TV 7

WWII bomber on display in Joplin; flights available


A World War II B-17 bomber plane makes its way to Joplin to offer a living piece of history to veterans and history buffs alike.

Pilot Mel Tiensvold says the Sentimental Journey is one of about seven World War II B-17 planes still flying the skies.  It holds 13 guns and can carry 48,000 pounds of bombs but now serves as a flying museum.

"All hand controls, all hand boosted, like flying a 50 pound dump truck is what it is," says Tiensvold.

His ground crew says it can get pretty emotional for some veterans seeing this sight for the first time since they returned home from war over 60 years ago.  

"Some of them break down in tears just seeing what was protecting them, what they were in, how arduous the work was for them," says Gary Karp, the Sentimental Journey ground supervisor.

It's not just the vets that are getting a sentimental journey out of this old plane.

Nial Ruff is a World War II veteran himself and says a lot of kids today don't know enough about what his generation went through.

"I think they ought to be educated a little bit along those lines, because it was something I hope they never have to see," says Ruff.

Thanks to the Arizona Wing Aviation Museum this jet is allowed to tour the country and allows people to take to the skies or simply tour it on the ground they can.

All of the controls are original and according to the pilot it costs about $3,000 every hour this plane is in the air.

Ruff says he won't be taking the museum's offer to purchase tickets for a flight.

"I've had enough flying," says Ruff, again, a WWII vet.  "I wouldn't be crazy about it."

Tickets start at $425 per seat and reservations can be made by calling 602-448-9415.  Cockpit tours are $15.  Ground viewing and photo opportunities are free.

Weather permitting, public flights on the Journey will be offered Friday through Sunday.  That'll coincide with a free open house at the Joplin Regional Airport on Saturday and Sunday.

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