Sally B’s Maintenance in a Very Strange Year


By B-17 Engineer Steve Carter

Following the installation of the newly overhauled No 3 engine, the work had progressed well right through the winter. The work also included the removal, inspection and repair to the flaps, the wing trailing edge and the No 4 engine turbocharger.

There was great anticipation for a lovely summer season of flying, for memorial flypasts and airshows but then all of a sudden, the first COVID-19 Lockdown descended upon us all!

To continue working on Sally B during lockdown, careful safety measures had to be put in place first. Once this was done, we could continue our work on Sally B. This was welcome news for the engineering team who were eager to return.

Painting Sally B

With all this extra time in hand, Stuart Vincent came up with the great idea to give Sally B a new coat of paint – Elly thought it was an excellent idea and thus, with Peter Brown on board, the preparation of painting the aircraft was made.

Soon after the massive undertaking of completely repainting the aircraft began, led by professional painter Stuart with the help of dedicated members of the team among them Ian Wilson and John Jeffrey.

The painting continued on Sundays throughout the summer and will continue during the winter months.

The wings and horizontal stabilizer upper surfaces, the fin and rudder and most of the upper fuselage have now been painted, and Sally B is starting to look terrific.

We’re sure you will agree when you next see her.

More TLC for our B-17

Over the summer, this winter’s maintenance work also began; a calendar driven task, even though she has not flown this year. Some of this involved the very skillful hands of Stu Hicks and James Langley, helped by Luke Morgan and Thomas Carter-Pettit. They have, among other jobs, been checking for corrosion and replacing rivets all over the aircraft.

Darren Smith has also been busy, helped by Callum, his son, who is now of age. We find it essential that the younger generation are encouraged to get involved with practical preservation and in sharing our experience with the engineers of tomorrow.

We are proud that Sally B has played a significant part for several young people over the years, and Callum is one of those. Also, it may surprise you, but Sally B’s engineering team have over a century and a half of collective engineering experience on the B-17 alone.

With so much work, care and attention given to her, we hope that when you next see Sally B outside, she will look all the more the iconic aircraft we all know she is.

Not forgetting our Tug, GPU and Stores It’s not only Sally B that’s been getting the TLC treatment, as some of her support equipment is also receiving much needed attention.

The Tug has had a great deal of work done to it, including new lights, repaired seats, new electricals, carburetor and engine work and an overhaul of the braking system, with much of this work being undertaken by Ian Wilson.

The ground power unit (GPU), has also received attention by Graeme Douglas, included a whole new inlet and exhaust system. We’re hoping it will be a lot quieter?

Perhaps it’ll be so quiet, that we’ll forget she’s even running!

We also hope that after all this, there will be enough paint left over from painting the aircraft, to give both the tug and the GPU a sprucing up.

Over the summer, much work has also gone into improving our stores area and making better use of the available space.

We sincerely hope that 2021 will allow us to get Sally B out of the hangar and fly her for you, but we will have to wait and see.

Editor’s Note: For a chance to contribute to support the Sally B, please see the following: