Houston's B-17 Needs A New Home

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Airworthy B-17 bombers are rare birds indeed, and one of the few that remain is now in danger of becoming homeless. Texas Raiders, a B-17 owned by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Gulf Coast Wing at Houston Hobby Airport, lives in a hangar whose owner has decided not to renew the lease when it expires at the end of this month. Since the airplane is still in restoration mode and not able to fly, a nearby space is needed to continue the work, which CAF says is only nine months away from completion. Otherwise, the airplane will have to be dismantled and shipped to the CAF HQ in Midland, Texas, "nullifying the six years of hard work and diligence completed by the group of volunteers," the CAF says. A better solution would be to find a hangar space in Houston so work can proceed uninterrupted on the vintage bomber. The CAF wing is holding a news conference on Thursday to publicize the airplane's plight and hope that someone will come forward with a facility where the restoration work can continue. "We are desperately seeking assistance from an individual or corporation which will allow this restoration to be completed in a protected environment," said CAF President Stephan Brown. "The CAF Gulf Coast Wing volunteers have spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to return this historic hero of World War II to the skies above Houston. We are hopeful that someone will step forward to help us realize this dream. All we need is the space; we'll do the rest."

Texas Raiders was delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force in 1945, and joined the Commemorative Air Force Ghost Squadron in 1967. Its last flying mission was in November 2001, celebrating the opening of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. An airworthiness directive brought the aircraft down for inspection in 2002. CAF has spent $500,000 to repair corrosion and make the airplane AD-compliant.