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Sat, Nov 08, 2008

Wanted: Loving Home For 'Texas Raiders' B-17

Vintage CAF Bomber Loses Its Houston Hangar

Only 12 B-17 Bombers from World War II are still capable of flight... and Aero-News has learned one of these rare warbirds may not be calling Houston home much longer. Texas Raiders, a member of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), is in danger of being dismantled.

The owner of the hangar that houses Texas Raiders has opted to terminate the lease effective November 30, 2008... leaving the $3.5 million asset without a home.

This historic bomber and its caregivers, the CAF Gulf Coast Wing, have been ordered to vacate the currently leased hangar by the end of the day November 30. At present, the vintage bomber is not flightworthy and a hangar is needed to complete the restoration process.

The CAF Gulf Coast Wing is now seeking a facility that is available immediately and able to accommodate this large and unique aircraft. The wing is interested in a standard lease or donation agreement that would allow the bomber to remain in Houston.

Without a hangar, Texas Raiders may have to be transported to the Commemorative Air Force Headquarters in Midland, TX. For this to occur, the near-complete bomber will have to be partially dismantled... nullifying six years of work completed by the group of volunteers of the Gulf Coast Wing to make the bomber airworthy once again.

"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 US Army Air Force July 12, 1945, and became a member of the Commemorative Air Force Ghost Squadron in September of 1967. Its last flying mission was in November 2001, celebrating the opening of the National D-day Museum in New Orleans, LA.

An airworthiness directive (AD) brought the flying fortress down for inspection in early 2002. After a six-year, $500,000 AD-compliance and corrosion repair process, members of the CAF Gulf Coast Wing have brought the vintage aircraft to within a nine-month window of completion.

Collecting, restoring and flying warbirds for more than half a century, the Commemorative Air Force ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. The CAF is dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition and remembrance with a flying museum of classic military aircraft.

(Photos of 'Texas Raiders' in happier times courtesy of Tom Griffith.)

FMI: www.commemorativeairforce.org

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