The Sally B in 2017: An Update


2018-01-10 By B-17 Operator Elly Sallingboe

Another display season has come to a close and as I write this I reflect on just how successful the 2017 season actually was.

Sally B News issue 55

We did have more rain than I can remember but, most of it was during weekdays and nearly every time there was an airshow the weather miraculously cleared.

We were lucky, both with the weather, and with Sally B not having any serious mechanical problems so we were able to display at almost all our booked venues. Looking back, it was a very good season.

Late September saw Sally B towed into her winter home in Hangar T2. It was good to have her back under cover once again protected from the harsh winter weather.

How the Season Began

After the Spring Air show at Duxford and our annual pilgrimage to the American Cemetery at Madingley, June was a quiet month, with just one display booked for RAF Cosford.

Displaying at Cosford proved to be one of the great highlights of the season.

Peter Kuypers who was the display pilot on this flight explains why, “Turning in for our last pass, we spotted a USAF B-52 Stratofortress running into our display area. The American Air Force bomber was starting his display before we had even finished ours!

“As it passed us, I was able to turn in behind this huge jet bomber and follow for an impromptu two bomber pass with us smoking on the two-left side radial engines while they smoked black smoke from all eight jet engines – what a sight that must have been: to put these two historic Boeing bombers in the same piece of sky was an opportunity not to be missed.”

Will we ever again see a B-17 and a B-52 in the same piece of sky in the UK; probably not?

More on the Season

July and August were busy months. During July we displayed at Old Warden, Cleethorpes, Duxford Flying Legends, RAF Fairford, Sunderland and Old Buckenham. Sadly, we missed out on East Fortune and one display at Sunderland on the Saturday because of bad weather.

During August we displayed for our very special Roll of Honour day as a thank you to those who support Sally B; Biggin Hill followed, then Dunsfold and Bournemouth.

September saw Sally B displaying at RAF Scampton, Southport and the Battle of Britain show at Duxford. For Sally B, the display season was quite a busy one, and as is the norm, began and ended at a Duxford show – long may that continue.

I visited the Old Buckenham airshow on 30 July where the crowd were treated to a solo display by Sally B, with Roger Mills putting our lady through her paces in typically dignified fashion. This nostalgic little gem of a show is brilliantly organised by Matt Wilkins, a great friend of Sally B. In 2018 the show will be on 28 and 29 July.

Sally B Needs a New Coat of Paint

This brings me to the subject of hangarage for our aircraft at Duxford. Just imagine how wonderful it would be if Sally B could be under cover all year round!

This way she would escape the elements which are seriously damaging her skin and paintwork: the sunlight is fading her exterior coat of paint whilst the rain is dripping through and damaging her interior.

But, and here is the big BUT, even if the Museum allowed us hangarage all year round, it is just not possible because the hangar doors in Hangar T2 do not open sufficiently enough to let the B-17 in or out without removing the wingtips.

To remove and replace the wingtips before and after each flight is, in practice, not possible!

Also, as far as I am aware, there is no other hangar big enough to house Sally B at Duxford, or at least none we could possible use.

I really don’t know what the solution is, unless the hangar doors are fixed, which I believe is very expensive if not impossible, or another hangar is built, and that really is unthinkable.

Another fact is that with Sally B being outside every summer, she now needs another repaint. This, together with the expected cost and difficulties in changing engine no 3, ‘Smokey Joe’, means that this is now a major issue and we need to raise more funds and need more help.

As I mentioned in the Summer bulletin, keeping Sally B flying for one year, let alone for forty-two, is incredible

Editor’s Note: Sally B is a partner of Second Line of Defense and it is time for our readers to consider this year’s contribution to keeping this privately funded B-17 operational for 2018.