B-17 Lands in Centre County

By Mallory Lane

Published 08/18 2014 05:20PM

Updated 08/18 2014 05:47PM

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - If you look up in Centre County this week, you may see something very special flying in the sky.

A historic B-17G is taking flight all week from University Park Airport.

Only a few people got the chance to ride on the B-17 plane Monday and for one person, the flight was the ride of a lifetime.

"I've been flying this airplane for about 20 years," Pilot Russ Gilmore said.

Every time Gilmore gets in the pilot seat, he feels a sense of pride.

"It's really an honor," he said. "This is a national treasure. There are only a few of these left and it's a great responsibility."

It's called the Sentimental Journey B-17. She's coming up on her 70th birthday this year.

"It served in the Pacific, sent out there for rescue and navigation," Gilmore said. "It had a boat on the outside of the Bombay, so if they saw a downed airman or a sailor in distress, they'd drop the boat so the person could climb in the boat and then they'd call in a submarine to pick them up."

It's one of only five or six planes like it left flying in the United States.

"I could see the world, it was beautiful," Fielder Newton said.

Newton is a veteran. He served as a Lead Navigator in a B-24 Bomber with the 389th Bomb Group, 2nd Air Division in the 8th Air Force during World War II.

This isn't his first time riding in a B-17, but it is his first time in the best seat in the house.

"I was sitting right there, on the seat with the big plexiglass in front of me," he said.

A real sentimental journey for this vet.

"I'm just looking at the beauty of it. You have beautiful white clouds and blue skies and you're flying over these beautiful green mountains we have," Newton said. "It's a pleasure to have the opportunity to do it."

The exhibit at University Park Airport will be open all week from 9-5 through Sunday.

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