“Texas Raiders,” one of 12 remaining airworthy B-17s, has a new home. The G-model Flying Fortress, owned by the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, has been undergoing restoration for the better part of eight years at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) in Houston. Soon, the bomber will be flown to David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (DWH) in Spring, Texas, where its new home will be the Tomball Jet Center.
According to Col. Sandy Thompson, public information officer, the Gulf Coast Wing lost its lease at Hobby Airport in 2008 while the aircraft was undergoing restoration. An appeal was made to the flying community and a temporary home was found across the field.
“During the past 15 months the restoration process has continued,” she said. “Texas Raiders’ became airworthy on Oct. 14, 2009.”
Using volunteer and contract labor, CAF Gulf Coast Wing members have spent more than $600,000 in restoration costs and exceeded 250,000 man-hours in labor, she said.
“Texas Raiders” was delivered to the military in July 1945, too late to be used in combat. In 1967 the CAF added the airplane to its Ghost Squadron. It was assigned to the Gulf Coast Wing in 1971. The airplane has undergone several restorations in its lifespan. The latest began in 2002 when an airworthiness directive for the inspection of wing spars grounded the airplane.
“Complying with the AD and undertaking the required repairs to this 65-year-old bomber have resulted in lengthy, yet necessary, restoration efforts to save this unique part of flying history,” said Johnson.
She said the CAF relies on donations, revenue rides, air-exhibit proceeds and grants to keep the airplane in the air, noting operating costs are estimated to be $2,500 per flying hour. Johnson did not say when “Texas Raiders” would return to the ride and air show circuit.