Ever wondered what it's like to see a B-17 Flying Fortress, one of the most iconic aircraft of the Second World War, up close?
This week could be your chance to find out.
Based in Arizona, the Sentimental Journey, one of only about 13 of the vintage Boeing bombers still airworthy, is in town this week, stationed at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum between July 1 and 7.
Museum visitors may tour the legend, popping their heads into the cockpit, walking through its belly and peering out a gunner's windows.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, crews will be taking groups of six to eight passengers on 45-minute flights over the Hamilton area. Riding in the nose of the plane costs $850, while seats in the radio room and waist gunner positions are priced at $425 each.
(Watch the video at the top of the page to find out what the ride is like.)
'A thirsty bird'
Laz Tollas, of the Commemorative Air Force, the organization that operates the plane, said the price reflects how much it costs to maintain and fuel the 70-plus-year-old aircraft.
"It's a thirsty bird and we, by the end, have to make ends meet," says the Canadian Armed Forces veteran, who splits his time between Alberta and Arizona.
The Commemorative Air Force, which is dedicated to preserving planes that fought in the Second World War, is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization.
"We commemorate that 1939 to '45 period. And not only that era in history, but also the men and women who served, and also the aircraft."
The group operates six other aircraft, including the only flying Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the make of plane that became infamous after the U.S. atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
'This airplane was certainly the one that was going to bring you home if you were shot to pieces.'—Laz Tollas, Commemorative Air Force
What's special about the B-17? "Everything is special about this airplane," Tollas insists.
"First of all, it's a living piece of history. It was probably the most famous bomber of World War II, certainly on the United States' side."
The B-17, with its 103-foot, nine-inch wingspan and 65,000-lb. gross weight, had a reputation for durability, he says.
"This airplane was certainly the one that was going to bring you home if you were shot to pieces."
Flying in the B-17 is a fun experience, he says, but he also encourages passengers to take a moment to reflect on thousands of "18,19, 20 year-old kids who flew up there,' risking life and limb in the war effort.
The plane will be on display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum between July 1 and 7. Tours cost $5, in addition to museum admission. Entry to the museum costs $12 for adults, $11 for students (age 13 to 17) and seniors, and $8 for kids between six and 12. Members and children under six get in for free.
To book a flight on the Sentimental Journey for July 5, 6 or 7, call the Commemorative Air Force's Canadian booking line at 587-338-8817. For more information, go to Warplane.com.