Historic B-17 plane comes to Conway; offers rare experience

Conway residents will have the opportunity to take part in an historic, once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend.

 

Hosted by the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association), community members can travel back in time by taking a flight tour of the one of the last intact B-17G planes from World War II.

Flyers will have an opportunity to buckle up and fly on the aircraft and walk around the historic airplane once in the air, getting a small glimpse into what it was like for the men who originally flew on the plane in the war.

The flight tour, available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., is $435 for EAA members and $475 for nonmembers, which includes a one-year EAA membership.

Ground tours, held from 2-5 p.m. will also be available for $10 individuals, 8 and under with paid adult are free, $20 for families adults and children up to age 17 and free for veterans or active military.

EAA members Bob and Ann Cantrell are helping put the weekend together.

Ann said these planes have a small crew of volunteers and one of those, a mechanic, is their neighbor and has been trying to get them to bring the rare plane to the area but due to inadequate runway space, that hadn’t been possible.

She said now that Conway has the proper landing strip at Cantrell Field Airport that the plane needs, that has changed.

“We finally had a chance to [bring] it to Conway,” Ann said.

In addition to the flights in the morning and the tours in the afternoon, she said, they also have the chance to host a Veterans Day celebration and other fun things available including several merchandise areas, book sales and lots of food on site.

“It’s really been fun for us to be using the Veterans [Day] angle,” Ann said.

The Veterans Day program will begin at 1 p.m. with the University of Central Arkansas’ ROTC (Reserve Officers’s Training Corps) posting the colors, Sen. Jason Rapert as the master of ceremonies, with guest speaker Gen. Dwight Balch, patriotic marches and period music by UCA’s Dixie Lane Jazz Band and a playing of taps to honor fallen heroes.

WWII Veterans — who should check-in at the ticket booth with their name, branch of military service and theater of operations — will be recognized by name during the ceremony and other areas of service will be acknowledged as well.

Planning the event, which will bring WWII veterans together with a WWII plane, has been super, Bob said.

He said he’s met several special people in the process and hopes this will be a very memorable Veterans Day for those present.

The event will go from Friday through Saturday at the Cantrell Field Airport in Conway.

 

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