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Friday, January 27, 2023

Bombers from World War II were used for Chico fire fighting in the 1960s and 70s

Chico-The B-17 aircraft that took off from Chico Airport this week is one of only two of its kind. It has witnessed the world in a state of war and spent nearly two decades extinguishing fires.

After World War II, the aircraft was purchased by Aero Union, an aircraft operation and maintenance company that operated at Chico Airport from 1961 to 2011. In the 18 years of the 1960s and 1970s, this aircraft served as a borate bomber 17, helping to extinguish fires for the organization now known as Cal Fire.

In 1974, the aircraft was purchased by the Arizona Wing of the Memorial Air Force and converted back to its original World War II configuration.

In 1974, a World War II B-17 bomber named “Flying Fortress”, now named “Sentimental Journey”, was shown on the right at Chico Airport in 1974. (Dino Corbin/contribution)

The Memorial Air Force is a private non-profit organization designed to protect aircraft from all countries in World War II (including the United States, Japan, Britain, and Germany) from 1938 to 1945. The organization aims to maintain the educational purpose of these programs by touring around the United States so that people can experience, learn, and remember the role these aircraft play in protecting the United States.

Dino Corbin, general manager of Deer Creek Broadcasting and Digital Interactive LLC, visited the United States from 1985 to 1990 as part of the Memorial Air Force and served as a flight engineer on a sentimental journey. Corbin said that there are currently two specific models of B-17 fighters that are about to arrive at Chico. Many were dismantled and sold as scrap metal before organizations such as the Memorial Air Force began to purchase them to preserve history.

Sentimental Journey is based in Mesa, Arizona. Another B-17 Flying Fortress bomber named Texas Raiders is located to commemorate the Texas Air Force. Texas Raider toured the Central and East Coast of the United States, and Sentimental Journey toured the Western and Midwestern United States. Corbin said that the last time Sentimental Journey came to Chico was about four years ago.

“It’s like my child goes home,” Corbin would say every time the plane came to Chico.

The Memorial Air Force is managed by all volunteers from 87 different units across the United States. A complete list of aircraft owned by the Memorial Air Force can be found by visiting https://commemorativeairforce.org/aircraft.

The sentimental tour will be open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. Admission to the Aviation Museum is free, and the cost of inside the aircraft is US$10 for an individual or US$20 for a family. The museum is located at 165 Ryan Ave. in Chico.

World Nation News Desk
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