Rare WWII bomber lands in Northeast Arkansas

B17G Yankee Lady arrives in Walnut Ridge

Rare WWII bomber making stop in Northeast Arkansas

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (KAIT) - History buffs and airplane aficionados have a rare chance to see a World War II flying fortress.

The B-17G Yankee Lady, which is touring the country as part of a “Salute to Victory in World War II,” landed Monday, Oct. 19, at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport.

Now through 5 p.m. Tuesday, visitors will have a chance to take photos and get an up-close look at the bomber. For $475, they can even take a 30-minute ride.

Harold Johnson, president of the Wings of Honor Museum, said Monday it was the first time he’s seen a B17 on the airfield since 1946.

“I learned to fly here when I was in high school, back in 1951,” Johnson said. “[I] moved here in 1946, the airfield was covered with World War II airplanes at that time.”

Back then the airfield served as the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School. Johnson said during the war about 12,730 aircraft touched down there.

After attending a reunion celebrating the airfield’s 75th anniversary, he decided to bring a bomber back to town.

“As a community rich with World War II history, we are honored to have this rare aircraft plan a two-day visit here," Johnson said. "There may be only 10 airworthy Boeing B-17′s left in existence, so it’s quite a thrill for us to have an award-winning example visit Walnut Ridge.”

After attending a reunion celebrating the airfield’s 75th anniversary, he decided to bring a bomber back to town.

“We tried to get the airplane then," Johnson said. "But it was just going to cost a whole lot of money at that time and we just couldn’t raise the money.”

But now, Johnson was able to raise the funds to bring the Yankee Air Museum, based in Michigan, to Walnut Ridge for two days.

Pilot Grant Schwartz says it’s great to bring a bit of history to Region 8.

“It’s always an honor to be able to represent the greatest generation with some of the equipment that they operated," Schwartz said. "We bring the history of aviation and the 1940s to communities all over the country in this way.”

You can go to the Wings of Honor Museum Facebook page for more information on the visit.

Copyright 2020 KAIT. All rights reserved.