City of Conroe Welcomes WWII Flying Fortress to Conroe – North Houston Regional Airport
Conroe, Texas (March 8, 2017) The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Gulf Coast Wing was officially welcomed to the City of Conroe today at a ribbon cutting hosted by the Conroe/Lake Conroe Area Chamber of Commerce today. Led by Chamber President Brian Bondy, the ceremony was attended by three local area WWII veterans as well as Stephan C. Brown CAF President/CEO and the Gulf Coast Wing of Houston, which operates the iconic bomber.
The CAF B-17 Flying Fortress Texas Raiders has moved to General Aviation Services on the north side of Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport, where it is maintained and operated by the CAF Gulf Coast Wing, a group of volunteer members who use the aircraft as an educational tool to honor and remember those who served our country during World War II.
The B-17 Texas Raiders just came out of a new paint job in which the entire aircraft was painted including the notable Nose Art. Well-known artist Gary Velasco of Flying Colors painted the Nose Art. The Texas Raiders name came from a comment by Gen. Hap Arnold, exclaiming the aircraft should be dedicated to all Texas veterans who have served our country.
CAF Gulf Coast Wing Leader Wayne Kennedy was pleased to welcome WWII veterans Curtis Blair, Bill Turley of Spring, Texas and R.B. Kelley of Montgomery, Texas. During World War II Blair was a B-17 bomber instructor, and Kelley and Turley were both B-17 ball turret gunners who served overseas during the War.
By the end of World War II the United States and Allies had deployed the largest air armada the world had ever seen, and 12,731 B-17 aircraft had joined those forces in combat. Today, only about nine iconic B-17 bombers still fly. Texas Raiders was one of the last B-17s ever built. The CAF Gulf Coast Wing members tour across the country with the flying iconic aircraft giving the public an opportunity to experience history up-close by touring through the aircraft. Texas Raiders performs regularly in airshows, civic events and flyovers throughout the U.S. and in the Houston area.
Upcoming local events for Texas Raiders include an open house at David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport on March 25, and an open house at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport on April 8. Both of those events are great opportunities for families to enjoy cockpit tours and flights in the B-17 as well as view and tour several other World War II aircraft.
About the CAF
The Commemorative Air Force honors the men and women who built, maintained, and flew in these vintage airplanes during World War II. The organization believes that is best accomplished by maintaining the airplanes in flying condition; taking the airplanes to the people allowing them to experience the sight and sound of the aircraft in flight.
Collecting, restoring and flying vintage historical aircraft for more than half a century, the Commemorative Air Force ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. The CAF is dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition and remembrance. A 501 (c) 3 educational organization, the CAF has more than 11,000 members and a fleet of 166 airplanes distributed throughout the country to 76 CAF units for care and operation. For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.