Sentimental journey in the air

Pointing to the city below, my 92-year-old co-passenger turns with a big smile.

Penticton's Bob Anderson a Second World War veteran pilot gives the thumbs up during his flight aboard the B-17G bomber Sentimental Journey over Penticton. The aircraft is a one of the fleet of warbirds operated by the Commemorative Air Force out of Mesa

Penticton's Bob Anderson a Second World War veteran pilot gives the thumbs up during his flight aboard the B-17G bomber Sentimental Journey over Penticton. The aircraft is a one of the fleet of warbirds operated by the Commemorative Air Force out of Mesa



Tapping on the Plexiglas of the B-17G bomber’s nose turret and pointing to the city below, my 92-year-old co-passenger turns with a big smile and gives the thumbs up.

Back on the ground, still belted into his front row seat, Bob Anderson, who flew Wellington aircraft for the RAF in the Second World War was overcome with emotion.

This, this really brings back a lot of memories, mostly good ones but some not so good,” he said, his lips quivering and tears in his eyes. “I had forgotten what is was like, but this has brought everything back, this was a thrill, this was a terrific ride.”

His opportunity for the flight on the vintage aircraft nicknamed Sentimental Journey actually came out of the blue after he received the invitation just hours earlier.

Organized by the Penticton Flying Club, the aircraft is here until Aug. 2 as part of the Commemorative Air Force (Airbase Arizona) tour through Western Canada.

While at the airport the public will have an opportunity from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. to tour the plane and talk to crew. Flights can also be purchased.

The first aerial sojourn following its arrival was for media and special guests who had the “gumption” to take the 15-minute ride west along the Lake Okanagan shoreline, returning on the east side with a landing approach over the sparkling waters of Skaha.

This was the best seat in the house and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said Anderson, whose agility as he extricated himself from the confined space belied his years. “I wasn’t worried at all, it was just so terrific to see everything from this angle. It was a thrill of a lifetime.”

Those were strong words of praise, especially coming from someone who had over 800 hours flying the twin-engine Vickers Wellington bomber, mainly on anti-submarine runs in the Second World War.

I’ll tell you flying 50 feet off the water and dropping torpedoes is not fun,” he said.

With four engines, and able to carry a large payload of bombs as well as plenty of fire power from machine guns in eight positions on the plane, the B-17 was dubbed the Flying Fortress.

At the flight controls this day was Russ Gilmore a retired airline pilot who currently flies large C 130 aircraft on missions relating to oil spills.

When asked why he volunteered his time and skills and the importance of keeping the aircraft flying, he replied: “A typical mission for this airplane would be 25,000 to 30,000 feet, 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) below zero, 10-hour missions, half the crew would go to the infirmary with some kind of frost bite usually on their face any place there was exposed skin.

That was the least of their problems because the Germans were pretty good shots and so were the Japanese and so we’re never going to forget the heroism and sacrifices our veterans made then and now for the freedoms we enjoy and that’s why we do what we do.”

And for veteran Bob Anderson, this was truly a sentimental journey.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Keremeos’ heritage Grist Mill and Gardens. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Keremeos’ Grist Mill looking forward to restrictions easing with exclusive concert planned

Juno Award-winning folk artist Valdy is set to take the stage

Letter writer says COVID has created lots of newbie cyclists who don't know rules of cycling. (File photo)
LETTER: Newbie cyclists in Penticton need lessons on rules of the road

Penticton cycling group just received city funding, should give back by offering how-to lessons

No dental coverage for low income Canadians. (File photo)
OPINION: Penticton MP’s proposal for universal dental coverage rejected

One in 3 Canadians have no dental coverage, with COVID making it even worse

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Sandra Krauer, Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki and Barb Hoolaeff were in Skaha Park to announce the return of Ribfest for September, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Ribfest returns to Penticton

Festival runs from Sept. 17 - 19 at Skaha Lake Park with proceeds going to new splash park

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

More flames
UPDATE: Lake Country home destroyed in massive blaze

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

A boat sharing service is extending to Summerland. The company, Penticton Boat Club and Rentals, is also taking over the boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort. (Photo by Chris Stenberg)
Boat sharing service extended from Penticton to Summerland

Company will also operate boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

Most Read