News Archive


New Tow vehicle for Sally B thanks to Kubota

31 March 2017

For decades, Sally B’s tow vehicle has faithfully towed the B-17 in and out of the hangar at Duxford, not to mention from so many A's to B's across the airfield; last year it finally succumbed to the rigors of time, so the search was on for a solution to this problem.  Elly Sallingboe approached me as the company I work for, Kubota; manufacture a range of machines including tractors and asked if they would be willing to help us out. 

I approached the managing director of Kubota Dave Roberts and asked whether there was any possibility that he would consider loaning Sally B a tractor. Dave immediately said he was sure that something could be done and tasked me with identifying a suitable size tractor. The Lancaster 'Just Jane' at East Kirkby is towed  by one of the smaller tractors that Kubota make but the requirements at Duxford for Sally B are very different as we often have to tow her on grass and therefore need a machine with suitable power and traction specifications. I went back to Dave with what I thought would be a suitable model; he kindly agreed and a plan was put into action.

On Friday, 31st March Sally B's new tug, a 60hp four-wheel drive Kubota tractor was delivered to Duxford. There to receive it with me was Chief Engineer Peter Brown, Captain and Trustee Peter Kuypers. Rob Fox from Kubota and Tim Ibbetts the local dealer from St Neotts then gave us full instructions on how to operate the tractor, so now we are all set to go and tow!  

Geoff Smith
Sally B Engineering Team

“We are hugely grateful to Managing Director Dave Roberts of Kubota and to our own team member Geoff Smith for their much-needed generous support” Elly Sallingboe, B-17 Operator and Chairman of Trustees

Kubota Tractor

Rob Fox and Geoff Smith hand over the new Kubota tractor to Peter Brown at IWM Duxford


Message to members of the Sally B Supporters Club

25th October 2013

After a most successful 38th display season, our B-17 left her summer residence on the flight line at IWM Duxford on the 23 October to go under cover in hangar T2 North where she is to begin her winter maintenance.  Over the coming months Chief Engineer Peter Brown and his team will be busy with yet another extensive annual inspection and maintenance programme. 

Free admission to Duxford and Guided tours of Sally B are exclusive 'perks' for members of the supporters club and I am delighted that so many of you have been able to visit and enjoy these very special privileges.

During the 2012 winter maintenance members were given access to Sally B (escorted) on almost every Sunday, even when the engineering team were working inside the aircraft. However, due to health and Safety reasons this will not be possibly this winter. 

But, all is not lost; members can still visit Sally B but now on the first Sunday of each month. From November to April from 1030 – 1500, two of our loyal team will be at Duxford to escort you around and whenever possible inside Sally B. There may be times when for health and safety reasons you cannot go inside, but the team will show you around and tell you what Peter Brown and the team are up to. Do please note that during the winter maintenance children will not be allowed in the maintenance area, they will have to wait till spring when the aircraft is outside again.

You can, of course still visit on any other day but there will be no one to show you around or inside Sally B.

Our support team will be at Duxford on the 10 November, Remembrance Sunday, you will not be able to enter the aircraft, but do come and say hello

Your Sally B News will full information on the 2013 display season is being prepared now and should be in your letter box late November.  For those of you who are not members yet, here is the current Sally B News and the latest Bulletin - it could inspire you to join – we need you!

Elly Sallingboe
B-17 Operator & Chairman of Trustees


Sally B over East Anglia on Bank Holiday Monday 27 May

A unique 8th Airforce 70th Anniversary Tribute Flypast will take place on Bank Holiday Monday 27 May over a selection of USAAF bomber and fighter bases in East Anglia. The flypast consisting of our B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B with four fighters from the Eagle Squadron, a historic four-ship comprising a Hawker Hurricane, Spitfire, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang. 

Over Bassingbourn and Madingley Sally B will fly in formation with the fighters.  After passing Madingley the Eagle Squadron will break away and the B-17 will then be following a few minutes behind them.

Timings for B-17:

  Duxford Take Off 1148 Fighters take off after Sally B
  Bassingbourn 1156 With fighters in formation
  Madingley arrival  1200  With fighters in formation
  Madingley departure    1204 With fighters in formation
  Mildenhall  1212 Sally B trailing the fighters
  Bodney 1221 Sally B trailing the fighters
  Snetterton 1226 Sally B trailing the fighters
  Knettishall 1228 Sally B trailing the fighters
  Horham  1233 Sally B trailing the fighters
  Thorpe Abbotts 1235 Sally B trailing the fighters
  Halesworth  1240 Sally B trailing the fighters
  Leiston 1246  Sally B trailing the fighters
  Duxford landing 1306 Sally B flypast before landing

Fighters return 1331                          

Here is hoping for brilliant weather for this unique historic flypast.

Elly Sallingboe
B-17 Operator & Chairman of Trustees 


Sally B has made it to her 38 display season

21st April 2013

Following an extensive winter’s maintenance in Hangar T2 by Chief Engineer Peter Brown and his loyal team, our B-17 will leave hangar T2 at Duxford on Wednesday 24th April and return to her enclosure on the flight line.  Here she will remain on static display throughout the summer when not flying.

Once outside Peter Brown and his team will complete the winter’s work by installing the wingtips and test running the engines in preparation for the test flight and crew training in the capable hands of Captain Andrew Dixon.  Then she will be ready to begin her 38 display season in the UK. 
The first display of the season, is at the all-American 70th Anniversary themed air show at Duxford on 26th May. 

Duxford’s Spring air show on the 26th May will celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the USAAF 78th Fighter Group’s arrival there.  The highlight will be the first ever display by the “Eagle Squadron”. This historic four-ship display comprises a Mark I Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, P-47 Razorback Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang “Princess Elizabeth”. The Eagle Squadron will also fly in formation with Sally B – a sight not to be missed!

Another special Duxford highlight will take place the day after the Spring Air Show, Bank Holiday Monday, 27th May when Sally B, together with a unique formation of vintage aircraft, will take off and overfly a number of Second World War USAAF Bomber and Fighter bases in East Anglia for a special 70th Anniversary commemorative flypast.

Yes, it is seventy years ago, when huge numbers of young American airmen poured into the UK as the USA joined the air war in Europe; many of them would join B-17 crews flying daylight missions over Europe. Today, it’s hard to imagine the sight and sound of those B-17 formations. But with Sally B flying in honour of all those crews, we CAN hear the roar of those mighty engines and experience the immense power as she sweeps across the skies.

But, if we are to continue to keep Sally B flying we now desperately need more funds.  That is why I have today launched a new annual appeal – the Sally B Appeal.

Please don’t let this be Sally B’s last year.  Do support our appeal.  Sally B needs your help.

Sally B’s flying programme is now online and can be found here  

Elly Sallingboe
B-17 Operator & Chairman of Trustees 


The 2012 season – an odd one!

29 December 2012

Following a successful 37th display season, Sally B is now tucked up, warm and cosy in her safe winter hangar at Duxford. Here she will be undergoing maintenance and will remain under cover until spring is here again.

The 2012 season – well, it was indeed an odd one!  In my 37 years of operating, I have not known a season like this one. We lost quite a number of venues because of weather or the Olympics and during the entire season flew only eleven hours - , which is the least we have ever flown with a fully insured and serviceable aircraft.

On reflection, in spite of the greatly reduced number of appearances by Sally B and the blow of not being invited to participate at Madingley, we did fly some memorable displays and paid some iconic tributes -  and Sally B was, as always, worthy of a gold medal in her own right.

During 2012, Five Sally B team leaders reached the amazing milestone of 30 years with Sally B.  They are Our Big Chief Peter Brown, Derek Smith, Mike Stapley, Steve Carter and Andy Jackson. In recognition of their professional enthusiasm and long term dedication, their names have gone onto the Roll of Honour and will remain there for as long as we fly.

American Air Day Credit Lance B Kuhn

With Sally B safely installed in her winter home at Duxford, looked after lovingly by her engineering team, I look back over the year and reflect on what a strange season it has been, and on our not too rosy finances which have been steadily deteriorating over the past few years - to the point where we now desperately need more help if we are to continue. On a positive note, my team and I are determined, as always, to do everything in our power to keep Sally B flying for as long as humanly possible.

Members, don’t forget to take advantage of the FREE ADMISSION to IWM Duxford on non-air show days - all year round – and use the FREE access to the inside of Sally B.

Visit Duxford on any  Sunday all year round, and one of our team members will show you inside the aircraft between 11am and 3pm (unless flying or undergoing essential internal maintenance). You can also look round Sally B during the summer when we are at other venues. Sally B is now Europe’s only airworthy B-17 so this is really something special. Remember - the general public cannot go inside!

These really are incredible perks for members, so if you are not a member why not join today

Elly Sallingboe
B-17 Operator & Chairman of Trustees 


Sally B pays tribute to the many..............

11 July 2012

We were delighted to have Sally B back in the air following what seemed to have been a very long winter.  On 5th May, Andrew Dixon, Peter Kuypers, Daryl Taplin and Peter Brown took our aircraft for a CAA mandatory test flight followed by crew training at Cambridge.  Our B-17’s first flight went without a hitch and Sally B was now ready to begin her 37th display season in the UK. 

Yes, it is 37 years since Sally B arrived at the UK and it is the 70TH Anniversary of the arrival of the first B-17 in Britain.  Our B-17 represents an important chapter in the story of flight from 1942 to 1945 when thousands of B-17 Flying Fortresses of the United States Eighth Army Air Force flew daylight missions out of British bases, many in East Anglia.  They helped bring about the end of the war in Europe but, sadly, many thousands of young airmen were tragically never to return.  It is, of course, in their memory that Sally B is kept flying.

Sally B’s 2012 display season began with the Jubilee Air Show at Duxford on 27th May. In brilliant sunshine a massive crowd of around 18,000 watched Sally B fly in the skilful hands of Andrew Dixon and Peter Kuypers.  A most inspiring start to the new display season. On Monday 28th May, at 12.30 precisely, Sally B flew over the stars and stripes at Madingley Military Cemetery, followed by three circuits over the graves in salute and honour of the many young men of the USAAF who are buried there.  I was there on the ground among the beautiful white crosses and was moved beyond belief….…

July is the 70 anniversary of the United States 8th Air Force first WW2 combat mission flown from the UK. To commemorate this tremendous period in our history, Sally B will take part in a series of commemorative flypasts and shows.  For more information on the 2012 display season go to the list of shows.

Photo D HarbarFor the duration of the London 2012 Olympic Games the display season has been brought almost to a complete stop as air shows taking place at venues near the action have had to be moved outside of this period.  We had to turn down Damyn’s Hall in Essex  because, according to the Olympic Police Rules of the Air, “loitering” is strictly forbidden - and displaying comes under loitering (unless you take off and land at the same airfield, in which case it is flying circuits, which is NOT loitering and IS allowed!).  On the bright side, the Damyn’s Hall event is still going ahead as Military aircraft and aircraft that can take off, display, then land at the venue, are OK. 

If you are a member, don’t forget to take advantage of FREE ADMISSION to IWM Duxford on non-air show days - all year round - and have a tour of Sally B on any Sunday unless she is flying.  If you are not a member, why not join today, we need your help and membership has never been better value.

Elly Sallingboe
B-17 Operator & Chairman of Trustees


An honour for Elly and all at Sally B

27 February 2012

It gives us great pleasure to announce that at the European Airshow Council’s (EAC) Convention in Brussels on the 24th February, Elly Sallingboe was awarded, the prestigious Jock Maitland 2012 Sword for her stalwart work with Sally B.

Elly said: “It really is a great honour to receive this outstanding award, not only for me but also on behalf of the B-17 team and our dedicated members. To know that the EAC Council appreciate the huge effort by so many people for so many years is unbelievable heart-warming”.

The wording on the certificate awarded with the sword reads as follows:
"The European Airshow Council Award of the Jock Maitland Sword in 2012.
Awarded to Elly Sallingboe B-17 Operator for her exceptional dedication to the formidable task of keeping the B-17 Sally B flying despite enormous financial, regulatory and other challenges for over 30 years, thereby earning universal respect from the Airshow fraternity and the general public."

The 2012 EAC Convention was attended by some 200 delegates from 27 countries.  It’s aim is to “Promote excellence and safety at Airshows”. It is open to everyone involved in the Airshow world including Display pilots, Performers, Organisers, Military and Civil Authorities.

The European Airshow Council


A short but succesfull 36th display season

20 October 2011

Sally B flew her last flight of the 2011 display season on Monday 17th October.  This was a test flight to check the emergency landing gear lowering (as seen in the movie Memphis Belle) which had to be done before she goes under cover for her annual winter maintenance. 

Massive increases in the operating cost made it necessary to delay the start of Sally B’s 36th display season, which began at RAF Waddington on the 2nd July.  This was followed by a busy three months of brilliant shows and flypasts including our “Sally B and Friends Day” Thousands of visitors and many members flocked to Duxford for this special day of great entertainment, 1940s nostalgia and fantastic flying:

Phil Whalley reports on the Sally B and Friends Day at Duxford on the 31st July 2011. "Amongst Friends"

Credit Darren Harbar

Photo Darren Harbar. click to enlarge         

This was an outstanding success thanks to all who donated aircraft and services and to all who took part.
Sally B behaved impeccably throughout this short, busy and successful season.  Thanks to all of you, members and friends for making this possible. 

Within the next few weeks, our B-17 will move from her position on the flight line at Duxford into hangar T2 North where Chief Engineer Peter Brown and his team will begin the annual maintenance and inspection programme.  But first, to get her in the hangar Peter Brown will have to take the wing tips off as the103 feet wing span is larger then the opening of the hangar doors.

If you are a member of the “Sally B Supporters Club” you are welcome to visit Sally B on any Sunday (1000 – 1400), when one of our team members will give you a guided tour of Sally B. Members also receive free entry to the IWM Duxford on none airshow days. If you are not a member why not join the Supporters Club todaySally B needs you!

Elly Sallingboe
B-17 Operator


SOS - Save Our Sally B

23 June 2011

Massive increases in the operating costs of Sally B and record high fuel prices have made it necessary to delay Europe's last remaining airworthy B-17's display season untill the 2nd July, when she will begin her 2011 season at RAF Waddington.

2011 heralds Sally B's 36th display season in the UK - an unbelievable and incredible feat in itself. With no official support, this has been achieved by relying solely on charitable donations, sponsorship & souvenir sales.

Sally B pays tribute to her supporters, Credit Gary StedmanThat Sally B, a living piece of our national heritage, has lit up the skies over Europe for the last three and a half decades, let alone survived for 66 years is a tribute to operator Elly Sallingboe and her team. Their hard work, commitment and drive, with the un-failling enthusiasm of Sally B Supporters Club Members have enabled this Second World War's icon to reach these incredible mlistones.

But, funds are now running dry and we do need more help if we are to survive. Please help us ensure that Sally B can continue to fly in this country to honour the many thousands who gave their lives for our freedom.

Together, let's put our hands in our pockets and Save Our Sally B!

 We are extremely gratefull for everything we receive, every little bit helps, it all goes towards the cost of keeping Sally B in flying condition. You can support Sally B by making a donation to our 2011 Appeal, and/or by joining the Supporters Club.

We thank you!

Below you will find information on the special Sally B and Friends Day at Duxford on the 31st July 2011


02 September 2011

Phil Whalley reports on the Sally B and Friends Day at Duxford on the 31st July 2011. Amongst Friends

An outstanding success thanks to all who took part.

Elly Sallingboe

B-17 Operator




Sally B and Friends Day

Imperial War Museum Duxford      

Sunday 31st July 2011      

22 June 2011

Sally B and Friends Day is an exiting new event, held by B-17 Preservation in partnership with IWM Duxford, honouring B-17 Flying Fortress G-BEDF Sally B, now the last remaining B-17 flying in Europe.

This will be an informal, relaxed day, and while it is not an air show, it will feature some fantastic flying, starring Sally B as the primary focus with participation from an array of historic aircraft.

Sally B will take to the air no less than 3 times in various formations with some of her big - and little - friends.

A 1940s US atmosphere will be enjoyed across the museum with the musical sound of Vera Lynn and Glenn Miller, vintage vehicles and second World War re-enactments, period costumes and uniforms - do join in with the 1940s atmosphere! Let's see you dressed in a '40s dress or uniform.

Credit Cliff Knox

Throughout the day, members and visitors will have the chance to meet the pilots and crew of many display aircraft and at set times there will be talks about Sally B by her operator and crew. These are simply some of the highlights of the day - there will be much, much more on offer on this very special nostalgic day at Duxford. 

Join us for this evocative celebration of the legendary B-17 bomber at the historic airfield that was home to the United States Army Air Force during the latter half of the second World War. 

And ... there is a very special Perk  for Members of the Sally B Supporters Club - as a big "thank you" for their loyal support throughout the year - IWM Duxford has given members of the Sally B Supporters Club free access not only to this special nostalgic day but all year round on non air show days!

So why not join the Sally B Supporters Club today?

You can also join us as our VIP guest on this special day


Please note that this event is not an air show.  It is a special occasion with elements of flying.

For non-members: standard admission to th IWM Duxford applies on this day and children aged 15 and under go free when accompanied by an adult. This represents a great value day out!

To obtain your tickets call the IWM Duxford Box Office on 01223 835000 or book on-line at



A Happy and Successful Anniversary Season

27 October 2010

Sally B's display season ended on an incredible high at the Duxford Autumn airshow on the 10 October when the IWM paid a stunning tribute to Sally B's 65th birthday and 35 years at Duxford.Credit Nick Blacow

As the undoubted star of the show Sally B took the lead in a special birthday flypast accompanied by three Mustangs and two F15s.  Thank you Duxford for doing us proud and for making this outstanding occasion such an unforgettable and moving celebration. 

Having flown just six weeks during 2008/09 we were delighted to complete a full display season without major hiccups.  Three shows were missed due to weather, sadly this included the Madingley Flypast.  One other show was cancelled because of oil pressure malfunctioning - but all in all, Sally B behaved impeccably throughout her special anniversary season. 

One of the season's highlights was in June, with a special visit to my home country of Denmark, where we had been invited to take part in the Royal Danish Air Force anniversary airshow at Skrydstrup. 

In May, the BBMF Lancaster had been due to overfly several Danish towns to commemorate the Danish Liberation in 1945.  But the bomber had a technical so it did not happen. 

Therefore, a plan was made to give the Danish people the opportunity to see the only other airworthy WWII bomber in Europe and complete what the BBMF was unable to do a month before.  This we did and to top it all we were awarded Best Display in the show that included amongst other attractions a formation of sixteen F16s in a diamond formation - we were extremely proud to be held in esteem above such a high standard of displays. 

This mission was an undoubted great historic achievement and a first for Sally B.

Much more about this and all the happenings around Sally B in our members magazine, Sally B news, out in November, but you must be a member to receive it, so why don't you join us by completing the on-line application form

Elly Sallingboe

B-17 Operator


Sally B ready to celebrate her anniversary year



2nd April 2010




Following an extensive winter maintenance programme by Chief Engineer Peter Brown and his growing band of brothers, Sally B is now ready to leave her cosy winter hangar at Duxford, for her summer residence on the flight line.


Weather permitting, Sally B will take to the skies on the 29th April for a test flight and crew training in preparation for her 35th Anniversary Display Season. 


2010 is a huge landmark year in several ways for our aircraft.  It is her 65th birthday and – most remarkably – it is 35 years since she arrived in the UK. 


At Biggin Hill back in 1975, when I watched the B-17 arrive from Creil in France, I would never in a million years have imagined that she would still be here, and  still flying today!  Yet, here we are, more than three decades later, with Sally B celebrating not only those two milestones but also 75 years of the B-17 and, 30 years of the Sally B Supporters Club - some truly incredible milestones for our aircraft!


We will, of course, be celebrating throughout the season, at air shows and venues culminating at our annual member’s party at Duxford on the 5th September. You need to be a member to join us, so if you are not, why not join today.  More news on our party will be posted shortly.


The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Sally B’s home for now 35 years, will pay their tribute to our B-17 at the Autumn Air Show on the 10th October when Duxford will celebrate her birthday.


credit: Robert Yuill

While celebrating, we must also remember that without teamwork and the help of our friends and supporters, this aircraft would not have flown for five years, let alone 35! Sally B really does have the best team spirit and supporters anywhere in the world. But, funds are now running dry and we do need more help if we are to survive.  So, please help us ensure that Sally B will continue to fly to honour the many thousands who gave their lives for our freedom.  


Elly Sallingboe

B-17 Operator






Rescued by Liberty Belle


27th August 2009


On the 15th August  Sally B was up and running again after being grounded for another  8 weeks because of a crankshaft bearing failure on the no 1 engine, which meant finding and changing yet another engine.


While scouring the world's warbird fraternity for a reliable replacement engine, help came from our good friend Don Brooks in the shape of a newly overhauled part-timed engine from his B-17 Liberty Belle. This was just what we needed!

Photo Credit: Gary Stedman 

The engine arrived on the 5th August and was installed and ready to go one week later. Sally B took off from Duxford for the test flight on the 15th August - and this time it worked!


Since then our B-17 has displayed at Rougham, Duxford, Shoreham and Bournemouth. Her next venue is our member's annual party at the Duxford Main Air Show on the 5th and 6th September.


We are so very happy to have our Sally B back in the air. Many thanks to Don Brooks and Liberty Belle for coming to our rescue.


Elly Sallingboe





A Message from B-17 Operator Elly Sallingboe

24th June 2009

On Sunday 21 June, we had the result of the latest engine problem on Sally B and it was what we had all feared but desperately hoped could not possibly happen - the failue of the crankshaft bearing on the no 1 egine, meaning that the newly overhauled engine has also failed.

How this happened no one can explain. We are at this moment in total disbelief, totally perplexed and utterly devastated.

Where do we go from here? At this moment we are scouring the world's warbird fraternity in the search of a reliable replacement engine, but in the meantime Biggin Hill, Flying Legends and Waddington are cancelled. A full investigation into all aspects of the recent engine failures is being done and no stone will be left unturned.

I do so hope that we will be up and running by the middle/end of July, but only time and finding another engine will make this possible.

Believe me no one is more devastated about this than I am.

Our Sally B will be flying again as soon as humanly possible.







Sally B is back!

16th May 2009

Sally B, the UK’s only airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress, is back in the air to thrill the crowds again this summer.

Photo credit: Gary BrownGrounded since October 2007 by a frustrating series of engine problems, this much-loved aircraft will return to the air at the Duxford Spring Air Show on the 17th May 2009. Getting her flying again after being grounded for 18 months has given us all a tremendous boost.

Thanks to our many dedicated friends and supporters, and last but not least to Mr Bertie Ashby. Without this tremendous support we would not have gotten through the dark times and we would not have Sally B back in the air now.

Photo credit: Gary Brown



Sally B getting ready for the 2009 display season

26th December 2008

Having lost the entire 2008 flying season because of engine problems, Sally B is now getting ready to play a key role in telling the story of aviation at air shows throughout the 2009 display season.

Sally B, complete with 4 engines! Photo credit B-17 PreservationSally B represents an important chapter in the story of flight from 1942 to 1945 when thousands of B-17 Flying Fortresses of the United States Eighth Army Air Force flew daylight missions out of British bases. They helped bring about the end of the war in Europe but, sadly, many thousands of young airmen were tragically never to return. It is in their memory that the aircraft is kept flying.

2009 heralds Sally B’s 34th display season – an incredible feat in itself. The preservation of this aircraft, a living piece of our national heritage, has been achieved for over thirty-three years by a dedicated team of volunteers, with no official support whatsoever, relying solely on charitable donations, sponsorship, souvenir sales, the loyal support of its working team of volunteers and the 6,500 Members of the Sally B Supporters Club. The B-17 Charitable Trust, Registered Charity No. 1079007, was set up in January 2000 to help secure the aircraft’s future in this country.

For airdisplay bookings contact Elly Sallingboe: 0044 (0)1638 721304


Sally B grounded until 2009

6th August 2008

I am sorry to have to inform you that the B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B will now not be flying this year. Sally B Grounded. Photo Credit: Philip Mason

Following an extensive investigation after the aircraft's two engines failed it has become clear that the repair work cannot be completed by October when her display season ends.

Engines and good spare parts have become increasingly difficult to find and as this goes to print we have found the fault in the first failed engine which is now being repaired. The other failed engine is still under investigation in the USA.

We are all saddened by this unfortunate turn of events, especially as this is the first time in the aircraft's 33 years of display flying that she missed a complete season.

We are confident that 2009 will see our B-17 back in the air where she belongs.


Elly Sallingboe receives Lifetime achievement award

25th July 2008

In June Elly Sallingboe was awarded the Transport Trust Lifetime Achievement Award by Prince Michael of Kent for her efforts to keep the UK's only B-17, Sally B, in the air. Elly Sallingboe receives Lifetime Achievement Award

During the ceremony David Lee of the Transport Trust made the following speech: For more information about Sally B or The B-17 Charitable Trust please contact Elly Sallingboe: tel (01638) 721304.

"This award is in recognition of over 30 years of dedication to the preservation and operation of Britain's only airworthy Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

In early 1981, as a very new Imperial War Museum employee I met a gentleman called Ted White who had two beautiful ladies in his life. One was an example of the most famous of all American wartime bombers, a B-17 Flying Fortress named Sally B in honour of his other love, Elly Sallingboe who we are honouring today.

Tragically Ted was killed in a flying accident in June 1982, leaving Elly to pick up the challenge of keeping this very expensive warbird in the air both as a tribute to Ted, but also as a flying memorial to the tens of thousands of American aircrew who lost their lives in her sister aircraft during the Second World War. Telling how she has achieved that aim in the face of what would have been insurmountable difficulties to anyone else would take many hours but suffice it to say that Elly does not accept that anything is impossible as far as Sally B is concerned.

Fuel and insurance costs are ever increasing and only a few weeks ago, a newly refurbished engine failed during test causing the loss of financially essential flying display commitments whilst a replacement is sought. The aircraft is now backed by a Charitable trust of which Elly is the Chairman and she is always the first to say that she has a wonderful team supporting her. But without Elly there would be no Sally B to bring tears to the eyes of the dwindling band of Eighth Air Force veterans and to delight airshow audiences.”

Elly Sallingboe, anxious to acknowledge her team as always, said "It is an honour to receive this prestigious award and it is heart-warming to know that people appreciate the huge effort by so many people for so many years”


Engine failure grounds Sally B

19th May 2008

We are sorry that the UK’s only airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress, Sally B is momentarily grounded. Now in her 63rd year, the job of keeping this flying memorial in the air is always hard work and sometimes luck is just not on our side...

Over the winter, in readiness for the 2008 flying season, a replacement engine was fitted but in early May this sadly failed during a test run. With important assignments coming up, including the Duxford show and our salute to the American Military Cemetery at Madingley, followed by the Biggin Hill International Air Fair, the decision was taken to change this engine.

Thanks to the wonderful recent financial contributions from Bertie Ashby and our Sally B Supporters Club members we were in the position to be able to enlist a full-time professional engineer to assist with this second engine change. This would put us back on schedule for the season.

All concerned were devastated when this engine also failed during its first flight. Lady luck was just not with us this time.

At this moment we cannot tell you when Sally B will be back where she belongs - in the air. Everything that can be done to turn this situation around safely and quickly is being done.

So, rest assured, although the team are well and truly saddened by this sequence of events we will bounce back.

We have many people around us who help us in so many ways, no more so than through the incredible efforts of our Supporters Club, that we will overcome this. We are sorry to have missed the beginning of the season but hope to resume our flying programme in July at the Flying Legends Air Show at Duxford.

Elly Sallingboe
B-17 Operator


New Engine for Sally B as she begins the 2008 Display Season

April 2008

During a training flight at the end of the 2007 season, a problem arose for the crew of Sally B when there was an indication of low oil pressure on the no. 1 engine. Captain Roger Mills immediately returned to the aircraft’s home base at Duxford, where it soon became apparent that the engine had seized.

For B-17 Sally B Operator Elly Sallingboe and Chief Engineer Peter Brown, this meant arranging for additional manpower and all the necessary equipment for the team to build up and replace the failed engine with Sally B’s spare. They also had to find new oil system components and a new spare engine - all in all, an expensive and complex undertaking. With the generous gift from Mr Ashby and the help from our trusted members and friends – and not forgetting the hard work of our professional team of volunteers – it was achieved.




The last time Sally B had an engine out was on Guernsey in 1998. The aircraft was stranded for almost a year, and required no fewer than three engine changes before it could finally return home to the UK.

Replacing this engine is a nostalgic experience for Peter Brown, who, back in 1984, had fitted it onto Sally B as his very first job on the aircraft. This Wright Cyclone engine has been on Sally B for 23 years – quite a feat!


Thank you Bertie Ashby

September 2007

It is with immense pleasure that The B-17 Charitable Trust can announce its largest ever donation - a piece of land that was subsequently sold for the sum of £360,000. This extremely generous donation came from Norfolk builder Mr Bertie Ashby.

We are extremely grateful to Mr Ashby, whose gift is the greatest news the charity has had for many years and has made such a difference to Sally B.

B-17 Operator and Chairman of Trustees Elly Sallingboe summed up just how much Mr Ashby’s gift means, saying: “For over thirty years it has been a constant struggle to make ends meet and keep this unique aircraft flying in this country. This outstanding contribution has given me a warm feeling of hope for the future survival of our beloved aircraft”.

Mr Ashby’s generosity came at just the right moment, when the aircraft’s finances were seriously depleted following one of the worst display seasons on record. 2007 was a near total washout, ending with a complete engine failure.

But with the euphoria over this unexpected gift, Elly was keen to stress the importance of the loyal support from the aircraft’s members, sponsors, friends and supporters: “Without them we would not have kept Sally B flying for 32 years, and we most certainly would not be able to continue in the future. We simply could not survive without this support. To Mr Ashby, our members, and to all our friends and supporters, thank you”.

Sally B has, without any doubt, the best supporters and friends in the world – one big family all working towards the same goal. So, if you are not already a member, please join us today by visiting our Sally B Supporters Club page.

As a “thank you” for his most generous gift, Mr Ashby was made an Honorary Member of the Sally B team at our Friends and Sponsors day* at Duxford, when he was presented with his own personalized team jacket. Then, amid much applause from members and guests, he unveiled the new Roll of Honour panel on the aircraft’s fuselage, which included his name in recognition of his outstanding gesture. 


Bertie Ashby - the latest member of the Sally B family

Bertie Ashby has lived in Wymondham, an attractive and historic market town near Norwich, all his life. He still resides in the family home where he was brought up, a listed cottage that he has completely renovated and modernised.

When Bertie was little he used to be given a shilling and allowed to go to Norwich to the cinema each week with his friends. While his mates enjoyed the film, Bertie would walk up and down the Prince of Wales Road with his shilling firmly in his pocket!

At the age of 12 Bertie started his first business, looking after pigs in his backyard. He has been making money and saving it ever since!

Bertie soon got into the construction trade and is well known as a master builder with a reputation of working hard and being content with life. He owns extensive property and land in Wymondham and Attleborough.

Not far from Wymondham is the former Hethel airfield, constructed during 1941-1942 for heavy bomber use. It was occupied briefly by the ground echelon of the USAAF’s 20th Bomb Group in November 1942, but they quickly moved out to join their Martin B-26 Marauders in North Africa. From June 1943 to May 1945, Station 114 became home to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator equipped 389th Bomb Group. Combat operations began in September 1943 and the group flew over 300 missions from Hethel.

The 389th was known as the ‘Sky Scorpions’ but also acquired the nickname the ‘Green Dragons’ after the inn of the same name in Wymondham frequented by the airmen.

Observing the American servicemen depart and return in their B-24s initiated Bertie’s interest in aircraft. He watched them regularly and says quite openly that if it wasn’t for these crews he has no doubt he would be speaking German.

As his keen interest in US World War Two aircraft grew, Bertie became aware of the Imperial War Museum Duxford and began visiting regularly, looking at the exhibits and attending air shows.

It was on one of these very frequent visits that he met Peter Brown, Sally B’s Chief Engineer. Although Bertie can be seen as a quiet type, he struck up a friendship with Peter by swapping stories and learning more about this amazing Flying Fortress. Peter would explain in detail what he was working on and how he was preserving Sally B. From this developed Bertie’s admiration for this special B-17 and all that she stands for.

Bertie Ashby is most certainly one of a kind.


Total respray for Sally B


September 2006

The UK’s only remaining B-17 Flying Fortress, Sally B, has been given a new lease of life by Air Livery at Southend

The B-17 has been in need of a new paint job for some time, but with money always tight, and with the ongoing fight to change new EU insurance laws that grounded the aircraft in 2005, there have simply not been sufficient funds.

But now, at the end of another busy season - highlighted by Sally B’s special visit to Poland to commemorate the 62nd Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising - a good friend, Adrian Tucker (Managing Director of Air Livery), rang B-17 Operator Elly Sallingboe, saying that, if the aircraft could be brought to Southend immediately, he would offer a very special price for a complete respray. Within four days the aircraft was flown to Southend.

On Sunday 17th September, Sally B arrived at Air Livery’s premises. There, she was stripped back to bare metal, primed and resprayed in the same colour scheme as before, complete with Sally B and ”Memphis Belle” nose art.

Photo Credit Steve Jones
Photo Credit Steve Jones

“It is so good to have Sally B back to her former glory,” said Elly Sallingboe. “This respray was long overdue to continue protecting the aircraft from the elements. Now, with this new lease of life she should be OK for many years.

Photo Credit Steve Jones
Photo Credit Steve Jones

We thank Air Livery for helping us with such a super deal and brilliant respray, and our Members, friends, sponsors, and the aviation insurance world for their generous support which has made this possible.”

Sally B will be flown back to her permanent base at the Imperial War Museum Duxford on Wednesday 4th October. The first public outing for her pristine new livery will be at Duxford’s Autumn Air Show on Sunday 8th October, which will also be the aircraft’s last show of the 2006 season.

Sally B is operated by Elly Sallingboe of B-17 Preservation and a team of dedicated volunteers, and has been flown in this country for the past 31 years as a flying memorial. The aircraft receives no official support, relying on the generosity of friends, sponsors and the 6,500 Members of the Sally B Supporters Club for survival. She is a regular attraction on the UK air show circuit and flagship of Duxford’s American Air Museum in Britain.

For more information about Sally B or The B-17 Charitable Trust please contact Elly Sallingboe:; tel (01638) 721304.


B-17 Sally B to honour Polish Nation’s heroic stand in WWII 


August 2006

The UK’s only airworthy B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B will make a rare flight out of this country to Poland for a commemorative flight over Warsaw on Tuesday 1 August to honour the courage, determination and sacrifice of the people of Warsaw who fought for their freedom in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. More than 250,000 citizens and troops perished.


Sally B arrives in Warsaw.  Photo Credit Piotr Sliwowski
During the official flight, the aircraft will drop leaflets over designated sites in memory of those who died. "The aircraft’s mission is to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for the freedom of Europe – a sacrifice that must never be forgotten", said B-17 Operator Elly Sallingboe.

The Warsaw Uprising was a heroic and tragic 63-day attempt by the Poles to liberate Warsaw from Nazi German occupation. A quarter of a million Poles were killed, and the Nazis punished Poland’s defiance by systematically razing to the ground 70% of the City. "Words cannot describe the Polish peoples suffering. " Says Elly Sallingboe "For Sally B to be given this opportunity of carrying out this tribute is a great honour and extremely humbling. My father was in the Danish resistance and my older sister slept with ammunition hidden under her cot mattress."

The Warsaw Uprising will forever serve as a symbol of heroism in the face of great adversity and pursuit of freedom, and this is everything that Sally B represents; it is an aircraft loaded not with bombs, but with memories, flying in tribute to those who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom.

There is a certain irony in Sally B flying across Europe for this unique commemoration. Only last year, the EU effectively grounded the aircraft by introducing new insurance regulations, placing the B-17 in the same weight category as a commercial airliner. A stop-gap solution was found, but unless this unjust law is modified, Sally B’s future as a flying memorial remains seriously threatened.

Sally B over Warsaw. Photo Credit Grzegorz Sobczak


Into 4th decade of flying for B-17 Sally B

Despite problems caused by European insurance laws, the UK’s last remaining airworthy Flying Fortress, G-BEDF Sally B, is back in the air for her 31st display season!

B-17 Sally B has been a favourite at air displays and other events around the UK for over 30 years. It’s an incredible achievement for B-17 operator Elly Sallingboe, her team and crew, and the 6,500 Sally B Supporters Club Members. All the more incredible is that in 2005, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two, European regulations temporarily grounded this much-loved aircraft.

New EU insurance laws based on aircraft weight placed Sally B in the same category as a commercial airliner – increasing her third party liability insurance costs by a staggering 500%. What were we to do about it? A national media campaign and a petition (with 35,000+ signatures to date) brought such a sheer volume of support and overwhelming goodwill that our website crashed. But we did get the ear of the regulators in Brussels, who now appreciate that an oversight was made in the case of Sally B. But to change this law is another matter, and the threat remains. On a positive note, the public response caused the insurance world to come up with a temporary affordable insurance package.

While Elly Sallingboe is optimistic of a solution, the campaign goes on. "I trust them to do something, but funds are still desperately needed. This is a burning issue, not only for Sally B, but for vintage aircraft in general. They are not commercial airliners, they are flying memorials loaded not with bombs but with memories. Such aircraft salute those who gave their lives for our freedom, a sacrifice that must never be forgotten".


14 October 2005

Hope on the Horizon for Sally B

As Aviation Insurers, Politicians, and enthusiasts rally to the cause of ‘living’ aviation heritage

In an unprecedented move, the immediate threat of permanent grounding to an important living piece of national heritage, B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B, has been temporarily lifted. On 29th September, aviation insurance underwriters came up with an affordable ‘stop gap’ solution to comply with a new controversial European Union regulation that had placed crippling financial demands on the operation of the 60-year old bomber. New legislation had put a burden of an extra £1,000 per flying hour on this national aviation icon. Sally B receives no direct state funding to keep her airborne.

Elly Sallingboe, B-17 Operator said: “Our fight to change this rule goes on, but we are delighted that the insurance world has again come up trumps with an affordable solution to help. Meanwhile, we wait for the EU to change this totally unrealistic law. “We thank Lloyds brokers Marsh, Sally B's broker Arthur J Gallagher (UK) and other London insurance companies and Lloyds Underwriters. The B-17 is now fully covered by third party liability insurance up to the 30th September 2006.

“With the help of politicians, the Civil Aviation Authority and our many friends and supporters, we have managed to get the ear of the Regulators in Brussels. It is now appreciated that an oversight has been made in this third party issue for Sally B.

“But, to change a law like this will take time. Once an EU law has been made, it takes years to reverse it. But, the pioneering work has now been done and I am confident that within the next 18 months this unjust law will be changed, not only for Sally B, but for vintage aircraft in general. Like Sally B, they are not commercial airliners, they are flying memorials loaded not with bombs but with memories. Such aircraft salute those who gave their lives for our freedom, a sacrifice that must never be forgotten”.

This has been a hard season for Sally B and her team, condensing as much work as possible in a season reduced to three months. But with dedication and enthusiasm, helped by loyal members and friends digging deep, the impossible has been achieved and on the 10th July Sally B joined the London flypast marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two and has since flown proudly through her special anniversary year - her 30th flying season in the UK.

A petition seeking an exemption to the new EU regulations has now been signed by 25,000-plus people – all by hand. This will be presented to Downing Street in due course. Sally B is one of a mere handful of survivors from the 12,731 Fortresses which were built, and her future in this country can only be secured through fundraising.

21 st June 2005


Members, friends and Virgin Atlantic saves the day for Sally B

The UK’s last B-17 Flying Fortress Sally B grounded because of a new EU liability insurance regulations, has been reprieve with the help of insurers, supporters and Sir Richard Branson.

Sally B will now join the London flypast on July 10th marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II after Lloyds of London offered it just three months insurance instead of the usual annual premium. This has substantially reduced the cost.

The new EU regulation on third party insurance introduced on the 1st May, classed Sally B in the same category as an airliner. The annual premium increased by £1,000 extra per flying hour.

In an unprecedented move, on the 17th June, Lloyd's of London underwriter’s came up with an affordable solution to comply with new EU regulation EC 785/2004. Help has come from Lloyds brokers Marsh, Sally B's broker Arthur I Gallagher (UK) and other London insurance companies and Lloyds Underwriters.

Sally B's hull insurance underwriters also wished to help and generously stepped forward with a special deal to extend the aircraft's cover to the end of the 2005 season.

The operators B-17 Preservation said that help has also come from many other sources. Our Members of the Sally B Supporters club have helped, as have the public. One Leicester businessman has made a substantial personal donation, and Sir Richard Branson has generously offered to pay for the three month season's third party liability premium.

Commenting on Virgin Atlantic's involvement, Sir Richard Branson said: "When we were told about the plight of Sally B everyone at Virgin Atlantic felt we ought to do something to help keep this amazing aircraft flying. I am honoured that Virgin Atlantic has helped ensure that the Sally B will take pride of place in the 60th Anniversary Flypast over Buckingham Palace this summer"

Elly Sallingboe, the head of B-17 Preservation, said: " We are intensely grateful to everyone who has offered us so much support in this serious crisis for Sally B. But this is only the beginning, the problem has not gone away, we must now plan ahead. As long term solution must be found if Sally B is to continue flying for the education and enjoyment of future generations. I am counting on the powers of our government to grant us an exemption from this illogical situation and for Brussels to amend this law to consider the limitations within which Sally B flies, rather than the current criteria based simply on aircraft weight. And, it is vital that the aircraft receives further financial support to meet the ever-increasing costs."

A petition seeking an exemption to the new EU regulation has already been signed by 7000 people.

The aircraft will return to the skies for three months for the remainder of the 2005 season on 2nd July when it will display at Kimbolton Castle and RAF Waddington. Followed by Flying Legends at Duxford 9/10 July, from where the London Formation will begin and end.


B-17 Flypast at Madingley cancelled

Sally B still grounded - But she will fly again this season

It is with the greatest regret that we announce that Sally B will not participate in the official flypast over Madingley American Military Cemetery, near Cambridge, on Memorial Day, Monday 30 May. This is because, so far, no exemption to EU regulation 785/2004 has been forthcoming. This is the new regulation that puts the B-17 into the weight category of an airliner.

For the past thirty years, Madingley on Memorial Day has been this B-17’s most important and poignant annual engagement, carried out in honour of the 79,000 US Army Air Force airmen who flew from these islands during the second world war and died fighting for our freedom.

We are devastated not to be able to pay tribute to all those young men, especially in this 60th Anniversary of the end of the War. The idea simply beggars belief that the aircraft that flew to liberate Europe and now flies in honour of all those lost young men should be put out of action by the very people who owe their freedom to the existence of aircraft like Sally B.

However, we are determined that we will get her back in the air in time for the Special 60th Anniversary Commemorative Flypast over Buckingham Palace on 10 July. We are confident that a huge head of political pressure is building to resolve the unacceptable effect of the new regulation. Even without an exemption granted in time, we are determined that her first appearance will be on 2 July at Kimbolton Castle and the RAF Waddington Air Show.

To this end, we have assembled an impressive list of the great and the good in and around the aviation world who have been prepared to sign a letter of protest to the Daily Telegraph, which was published on Monday 23 May. The list of signatories follows this stop press notice.

We remain hopeful that a way can be found through this illogical and unjust law, so that Sally B’s 30th Anniversary season in this country will not be her last.

Signatories to letter to The Daily Telegraph

Raymond Baxter, wartime Spitfire pilot and broadcaster.
Paul Beaver, broadcaster
Allan Burney, Editor, Aircraft Illustrated magazine.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Craig of Radley.
John Davis, Chairman, Air Display Association, Europe.
Sqn Ldr Neville Duke, DSO, OBE, DFC**, AFC, FRSA, FRAeS, Czech MC.
Tony Edwards, BSc, MBA, CEng, FRAeS, Chairman, Air League.
Ken Ellis, Editor, FlyPast magazine.
John Farley, OBE, AFC, test pilot.
Dr Michael A Fopp, Director General, Royal Air Force Museum.
Harvey Goldsmith.
Alex Henshaw, MBE, test pilot.
Gerald Howarth, MP
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Knight, KCB, AFC, FRAeS, President, The Royal International Air Tattoo.
Sean Maffett, aviation commentator.
Jock Maitland, DFC (US), air display organiser.
Michael Oakey, Editor, Aeroplane magazine.
Lembit Opik, MP.
Geoffrey van Orden, MBE, MEP.
Tim Prince, Chief Executive, Royal International Air Tattoo.
Lord Rotherwick.
Elly Sallingboe, Operator, B-17 Sally B.
Martin Shaw, actor.
Allan Winn, Director, Brooklands Museum.




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