Sally B is the only airworthy B-17 in Europe. It is based at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, where it is usually on static display.
The B-17 is not owned by the museum but by a charity, called the B-17 Charitable Trust, supported by volunteers and a Supporters Club with over 6,000 members.
Sally B never saw war service. She was one of the last B-17s to be constructed and didn't join the fleet of the US Army Air Force until June 1945.
Sally B was built in standard configuration for active service but was soon converted for use as a trainer, then for research, returning to standard configuration, but without armaments, in 1954. From November of that year it had a French registration and was based in France working on survey and mapping for the French government, and others, until the 1970s.
In 1975 Ted White, a businessman and pilot, brought Sally B via Biggin Hill to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. It was Ted who named her Sally B after his companion, Elly Sallingboe.
Sally B first flew in an air display at Biggin Hill in the same year, as the USAAF World War Two Memorial Flight.
Sally B was kept in flying condition by an engineering support group and volunteers from the newly formed Duxford Aviation Society and, from 1980, the Sally B Supporters Club. She was painted in the 457th Bomb Group, USAAF 8th Air Force, keeping her original serial number 485784.
In 1982 Ted was killed when his T-6 Harvard, G-ELLY, crashed in Malta. In his memory, Sally B's starboard inner engine cowling carries the same black and yellow chequered markings as his Harvard.
B-17 Charitable Trust
In 1998 Sally B suffered a series of engine problems pinning her down in Guernsey for nine months. With a lot of commercial and volunteer support, the engine was replaced and she returned to Duxford in April 1999. Because there were no funds left to continue to fly and maintain Sally B, the B-17 Charitable Trust was formed in March 2000 to enable access to greater funding.
The Trust received a grant of £20,000 from the Imperial War Museum Duxford, where Sally B is the flagship of the American Air Museum in Britain, part of the Imperial War Museum complex. Patron of the Trust is Air Chief Marshal Sir John Allison. The Trustees are Elly Sallingboe, Edward (Ted) Inman (former Director of the Imperial War Museum Duxford), Laurence Chandler (Ted White's accountant) and Derek Smith (head of the Sales Team).
Sally B enjoyed her first TV role in 1981 as B-17 'Ginger Rogers' in London Weekend Television’s 'We’ll Meet Again'. In 1989 she starred with four other B-17s in the film 'Memphis Belle' and is the plane shown coming home from the final mission.
As well as airshows in the UK and in Europe, she has also performed at the D-Day commemorations in 1994, the VE-Day flypast over the City of London in 1995 and, most years, led the Memorial Day commemorative flypast over the American Military Cemetery at Madingley in Cambridgeshire.