© Photo by Rus Heinel
Sentimental Journey, a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, arrived at Glass Field in Prince Albert on Monday.
The Second World War has always held a particular fascination for me.
When I was in junior high and not reading Hardy Boys books, I was devouring anything I could get my hands on about a war that ended 20 years before I was born.
The battles in the air held a special appeal for me. I'm not sure what my peers were reading but I was engrossed in Spitfires, Zeroes, Me 109s, Mosquitoes, Mustangs, Superfortresses and the other planes that did the fighting. My room had a number of models that I built and had hanging in various poses.
So when I heard that a Flying Fortress was coming to the Prince Albert airport later this week, you'll forgive me if I was more than a little excited.
The Boeing B-17 was one of the American planes that helped win the war in both the European and Pacific theatres.
It’s estimated that B-17s dropped 580,631 metric tons of bombs on Europe.
They carried nine crew, 9,000 pounds of bombs and had a staggering 11-13 machine guns on board, making them a less tempting target for enemy fighter pilots to attack.
The plane that's coming to Prince Albert, dubbed Sentimental Journey after the classic Doris Day song, is one of just 13 left that flies. That’s 13 of more than 13,000 that were produced.
While many were shot down or destroyed during the war -- some sources suggest as many as half -- the plane developed a reputation as able to absorb tremendous punishment.
Sentimental Journey was built in 1944 and served in the Pacific Theatre after arriving there in March of 1945.
After the war, it served a variety of military purposes before being converted to fight fires. The plane was donated to the Commemorative Air Force in 1978 and underwent a massive four-year renovation beginning in 1981 to restore it to its wartime glory.
I may get a chance to go up in the old bird and I might not. It's hard to explain but that's less important to me.
Instead, I hope to have a chance to look around it and to put my hands on it.
We have our friends at the Prairie Heritage Air Show Society to thank for this visit, plus the good folks over at the Northern Lights Casino.
At last year’s Centennial of Flight air show, a B-25 Mitchell bomber that served in Italy was among the exhibits.
If you’re the adventurous type and love the old birds like I do, you can pay to catch a ride in Sentimental Journey.
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We’ve had a couple of instances recently where people have taken strong exception to stories that we’ve written because they didn’t agree with them.
I’m forever amazed at the visceral anger some people seem to carry everywhere, just waiting for a target to unleash it upon.
Since I consider the criticisms ridiculous, I’m not going to provide any details or even hint at the stories involved.
In one instance, the gentleman was angry because the story was balanced. I’m actually on the same side of the issue as he is, but it’s not our role to act as cheerleaders.
As I suggested to him in an email, everyone always wants a newspaper to act as an advocate on an issue; that is until they choose the wrong side. Then we’re biased.
In the other story, the gentleman disagreed with the fundamental belief of the person who a story was written about. First he argued with the core of the story, and then he ripped apart the character of the man whose opinions were different than his own.
Both letters made me sad. We were shredded both times because our stories didn’t exactly parrot the opinions of the men who objected to them.
As an intellectual exercise, I like to go into the comments sections of websites where I know I’ll read things directly contrary to what I believe.
I guess it’s cod liver oil for my brain; it doesn’t always go down very well but I think it’s good for me.
I like to try to understand what people are thinking and why.
I only get cranky with racism, homophobia and misogyny, because that’s the currency of bullies.
But a simple difference of opinion rarely sets me off.
I’m hardly a perfect person -- just ask the young lady who has put up with me for 21 years of marriage -- but even an attempt at understanding would go a long ways, both in person and online.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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