Day 6 of our Portrush aircraft Profile is Europes only flying B17 known as Sally B.
B-17 Flying Fortress G-BEDF Sally B is the last remaining airworthy B-17 in Europe. She is based in the UK from where she flies regularly at air shows, memorial flypasts and commemorative events as a memorial to the USAAF in Europe.
Since 1982, Sally B has been operated by Elly Sallingboe of B-17 Preservation with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers and the backing of one of the largest supporters clubs of its kind in the world – the Sally B Supporters Club.
Sally B is maintained by Chief Engineer Peter Brown and his team of volunteers, and flown by volunteer experienced professional pilots. Find out more about the aircraft’s background on our History page or you might like to check out the Latest News.
Sally B is permanently based at the Imperial War Museum Duxford where she is on static display when not flying. However, the aircraft is not part of the Museum’s own collection and relies solely on charitable donations, sponsorship, sales of souvenirs, and the loyal support of her working team of volunteers and 8,000 Sally B Supporters Club Members, one of the largest clubs of its kind in the world. Bearing this in mind, it is incredible to think that this aircraft has been flying in the UK for 40 years.
Operating a large, four-engined aircraft is extremely expensive and the costs must be met if Sally B is to continue her mission. It would be a huge loss to our country if this unique, tangible piece of history could not continue because of a lack of funding. Sadly, in just a few years, even the men who survived the war will all be gone. It is up to us to keep their legacy alive – but Sally B needs more support to continue to do so.
The aircraft was delivered to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 19 June 1945 as 44-85784, too late to see active service in the war. After being converted to both a TB-17G training variant and then an EB-17G it was struck off charge in 1954. In 1954 the Institut Géographique National in France bought the plane for use as a survey aircraft. In 1975 it moved to England and was registered with the CAA as G-BEDF to be restored to wartime condition.
The Sally B was used in the 1990 film Memphis Belle as one of 5 flying B-17s needed for various film scenes, and it was used to replicate the real Memphis Belle in one scene. Half of the aircraft is still in the Memphis Belle livery, following restoration of the Sally B nose art and the black and yellow checkerboard pattern on the cowling of the starboard inner (no 3) engine, carried as a tribute to Elly Sallingboe’s companion Ted White, whose Harvard aircraft had the same pattern on its cowling. Sally B was reworked to B-17F configuration for filming.
Outside of a flypast over a USAF cemetary in Belfast in 2013 this will be the first full display by Sally B in Northern Ireland for a very long time. We look forward to seeing her in Northern Irish skies once again in Portrush on Saturday 5th September! (Admin note – this is one of the displays I am looking forward to the most)
Check back tomorrow when we will profile the two search and rescue Helicopters that will display next weekend!! Information from Sally B website and Wikipedia. Photograph from Wikipedia.