OGDEN -- Phil Cordova has spent his entire life around planes, but even he was struck by the history of the two on display in Ogden. On Monday, two restored World War II bombers, the B-17 Flying Fortress "Sentimental Journey" and B-25 Mitchell "Maid in the Shade," flew into Ogden-Hinckley Airport and will remain on display from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until Monday.
"These are incredible machines," said the 87-year-old Roy resident and WWII veteran.
During the war, Cordova was in the U.S. Navy, stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. He spent his time during the war maintaining planes, then another 32 years after the war doing the same thing at Hill Air Force Base.
"I've worked on these planes for years," Cordova said. "These two planes here are the planes of my era. Man, it brings back a lot of memories."
The two bombers are maintained and operated as a flying museum and memorial by the all-volunteer, nonprofit Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Wing Aviation Museum based in Mesa, Ariz., at Falcon Field Airport.
The Arizona Wing members restored the 1944 Flying Fortress, which is the most fully restored B-17 flying today.
Roughly eight B-17 Flying Fortresses are still flying in the world.
Rich Roberts pilots the plane today and said that, each time he flies it, he feels like he's stepping into a time machine.
"It was built in November of 1944, so it wasn't in the war," Roberts said. "But it's still an incredible piece of history. There are only seven or eight of these in the entire world. Sometimes I lose the reality of it."
Russ Kozimor is on the B-17's flight crew and said maintaining a plane that is nearly 70 years old can be challenging.
"We curse and scream a lot," he said, "but we manage to keep her running."
Roberts said the plane is equipped mostly with its original parts.
"It's pretty authentic," he said. "The only thing that is really modern are some of the radios, and we have a GPS."
Roberts said the plane did sea-air rescue work for a short time after the war, then was bought by a California company for firefighting flights.
The Mitchell bomber flew 15 combat missions out of Corsica, France, during WWII.
The plane's restoration back to flying condition took 28 years and was completed in May 2009.
The Arizona Wing Aviation Museum and its restored aircraft and artifacts span more than 90 years of aviation history. It flies its planes all over the United States, usually from June to October.