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Sally B in flight - photo credit Zaid Meherali

Sally B in flight – photo credit Zaid Meherali

A Boeing B-17 bomber, known from earliest days as the Flying Fortress, will be  making  a welcome return to Biggin Hill Airport on 13th June to feature in the display at the Festival of Flight.

As the UK’s last remaining airworthy American bomber, the famous aircraft known as the ‘Sally B’ will be marking her 40th display season in 2015 and at the same time celebrating her 70th birthday.  Elly Sallingboe, the aircraft operator, her crew and team of volunteers have managed to reach the 40-year milestone without any form of official help..  The historic aircraft has been kept in the air with the help of 6,500 members of the B-17 Supporters Club along with charitable donations, supportive sponsorships and souvenir sales.

“Fundraising is an ongoing struggle” says Elly.   “It is a constant challenge – no sooner do we secure sufficient funds for one year than we have to look ahead and plan for the next. But we are determined to continue fighting for the survival   of this important living piece of our history and wartime heritage because Sally B flies as a memorial to all Allied airmen who fell in WWII” says Elly.

Based at Duxford (Cambs), the airfield home of the Imperial War Museum, the B-17 will fly into Biggin Hill for the Festival of Flight where it is certain to provide a spectacular display for spectators.  It is planned for the aircraft to be parked up for inspection by visitors and to meet the crew.

Colin Hitchins, event organiser, says that some visitors will remember this B-17 landing at Biggin Hill 40 years ago this summer when it was rescued by Ted White from an uncertain future in Africa with a bold restoration plan in the UK.

“It is marvelous to see the aircraft maintained 40 years on in such fine flying condition – a great tribute to Elly and her team for determination and perseverance” says Colin.

Sally B’s TV and film credits include a leading role in the ‘Memphis Belle’ film, also We’ll Meet Again, Over Here, Bomber Crew and the 2007 film called ‘Black Book’.

The prototype aircraft first flew on 28th July 1935 and was immediately dubbed ‘The Flying Fortes’ by the invited US press corp in attendance.  The Sally B was built at the Lockheed-Vega production line at Burbank, California the spring of 1945.  Of the 12,731 built, Sally B is one of only a handful of survivors worldwide and the only airworthy version in the UK.

The Festival of Flight 2015 is presented in association with MetroBank.

See website for more information and ticket sales on-line, or call the Festival Box Office on 01689 – 300005 during office hours for ticket purchase.