The B-17 Picadilly Lilly II as she appears today on display at the main entry to the Planes of Fame Air Museum facility in Chino, CA.
The restoration project for the Planes of Fame Air Museums B-17G, Picadilly Lilly II. The last active B-17 in the USAF. Added: 08/29/2010
To Fly Again....
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress"Piccadilly Lilly II"
Fundraising Campaign, and Restoration Project At the Planes of Fame Air Museum, Cal- Aero Field, Chino Calif. USA
To All Fellow Aircraft and Warbird lovers,
A CALL TO ACTION!!!!!
My Name is John Atkinson, a member and volunteer at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California, having helped on many of the restorations in our collection, I am embarking on a mission to see yet, one more rare Boeing B-17 take her place in the sky. I am asking for the help of all those who share a love, and passion for these historic and magnificent Flying Fortresses. The Piccadilly Lilly II now sits on display at the POF museum, but we are lacking the full funding to restore her to flyable condition. My goal is to reach one million people or more worldwide via the internet who will be willing to donate just $3 each to her restoration. This Bomber is an actual movie star, she was used in several movies and TV shows including the TV series "12 O'Clock High", "Baa Baa Blacksheep" and the motion picture "The Thousand Plane Raid". Owned by the USAF she was grounded in 1972 and has not been flown since. But 8 years ago a miracle!!! The USAF gifted the Lilly to the Planes of Fame, pink slip and all, and it gave us hope to restore her to flyable. Restoration looks to be a daunting task, and there are naysayers but a handfull of us including veterans who flew them say "WE CAN DO IT"!!! and in fact one of our Volunteer Vets an actual ball turret gunner on the B-17 named Kismet, Wilbur Richardson, has pledged $40,000 towards her restoration and we also have a commitment from Vintage Radial Overhaul in Tehachipi CA to restore one engine free of charge once major work is under way, and is a great step to the total 3 million required for a mint factory restoration.
The Lilly was a training ship, never in combat, and the last B-17 used in U.S. Military service, almost every piece on her is original factory equipment, and after 30 yrs outside needs some serious work. We have already restored all the flight control surfaces and are doing what we can at the moment.
On a personal note; my mother, a survivor of the London Blitz, broke down in tears under the Lilly's wing 2 years ago and told me of the time during the war when the children of London were evacuated to the countryside. Her brother and her were housed at Guildford with a B-17 and B-24 base nearby and she told of how each day the kids would watch as the bombers took off, grouped up, and set off to war, then later they would watch and count the lucky ones who made it back, and then smiled remembering the candy and goodies the aircrews would rain down on the children below, a gift from above in dire times.
But.. she also told me off the horrors they saw, on the return flights as they passed low over the nearby Hogsback Hill, of the airplanes on fire, pieces missing , and at times the bodies and blood of those who had given their lives for freedom.
On that day 2 yrs ago in Chino, My mum made me promise to help restore this grand old lady to the sky so that we can honor and remember those that built them, the Wasps who ferried them,the crews who manned, fought, and died in them, and those on the ground who fixed, patched, and prayed each day for their safe return. It is also for the future generations so that they may learn what this aircraft was all about, so that the history and memories will never fade.
Of the 12,731 B-17s built, about fifty still exist, and only 16 are flyable. If you are lucky to live near their home bases as I am, you might see a couple of them each year as they tour the airshow circuit gracefully flying along. Let's get one more up there so that we, who love the sound of those 4 radial engines, can run or hobble outside and stand in awe as she passes over head and tell the kids who ask what it is, and teach them of those days long ago, when the B-17 was the line between freedom and madness.
I make this plea to all of you: help us restore our fair Lilly to the sky.
Please forward this e mail on to your friends, family, aviation and warbird enthusiasts, and anyone who loves Americas glorious past history. Remember just $3 from each is our goal and you will soon see the finest restored Flying Fortress ever back in the sky.
Send donations to:
Planes of Fame Air Museum
7000 Merrill Ave #17
Please feel free to visit our website at: www.planesoffame.org and look at our fine collection of flying warbirds, the site is being updated and will be undergoing changes, but please pay it a visit, and we thank you all for your support.
A short video by the restoration team on the ongoing restoration of the B-17G known as "Picadilly Lilly II" at the Planes of Fame Air Museum. Added: 06/09/2010
This restoration project for the B-17 "Picadilly Lilly II" by the Air Museum Planes of Fame is an important project for the preservation of our national military history and is highly endorsed and supported by Fly By Night Videos. Please help support this project to return one of these great birds to the sky, for our children and their children to see and experience the machines that brought freedom to Europe in World War II and returned peace to the world. We must not forget the courage and sacrifice of those who manned these great birds and the best way to do that is to continue to fly and maintain such great machines that others may see and experience the thrill and glory that is the Boeing B-17 heavy Bomber.