Air Group One is the San Diego Wing of the "Commemorative Air Force" a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Midland, Texas. The CAF is an all volunteer organization, with members from all walks of life, dedicated to preserving the history of the people and planes of World War II and the promotion of aviation. Your donations are most welcome.
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Video and photos by Col. John Telles, Air Show Chairman, Wings Over Gillespie 2011 & 2012.
Rarely in a lifetime comes a perfect combination of dedication and serendipity which sends a warm feeling through our bodies and remains in our memories forever.
Over San Diego on Memorial Day May 31, 2011, just such an event occurred.
Memorial Day is a special time for all veterans and their families. And in San Diego, in its long association with the military, it has a deeper meaning.
In the skies over the city a vision from the past emerged from the pale blue skies to the east. A gleaming sliver ghost with broad wings and roaring engines soared overhead.
The B-17G Flying Fortress “Sentimental Journey,” operated by the Arizona Wing of the CAF, gave the city a wonderful Memorial Day present.
The brainchild of air show chairman Colonel John Telles, USMC (Ret), and Marketing Representative Rich Kenney of Air Group One, the flight carried a small group of people who were honored to participate in the planning. “I wanted to have someone to represent each of the five armed services,” Telles said. “And it worked out great.”
He called General Robert Cardenas, USAF (Ret) to be a guest on the flight. Cardenas, former head of Bomber Test at Wright-Patterson and the Program Manager for the Bell X-1 Project at Muroc in 1947, was deeply moved to be asked. “Telles offered me a chance to ride in the plane over Miramar and the other military cemeteries on Memorial Day,” said Cardenas.
‘Sentimental Journey’ had a two-plane escort. One of them was Doug Matthews’ North American AT-6 Texan with Jim McGarvie at the controls and John Telles in the back seat. Owner and pilot Russ Westphal also flew escort in his beautiful NA-50. Russ was a major factor in arranging for the B-17 & B-25 to visit San Diego from the Arizona CAF Wing and participate in 2011 Wings Over Gillespie air show and this Memorial Day Commemoration Flight.
Air Group One sponsored this "Memorial Day Commemoration Flight.” San Diego citizens got to see the B-17, “Sentimental Journey” flying over San Diego’s National Cemeteries, the Midway, downtown and at the beaches mid-afternoon on Memorial Day. USAF Brigadier General Robert Cardenas, and other distinguished active and retired representatives including Air Group One Wing Leader Bob Simon, were aboard this historic, commemorative flight as a show of our appreciation and respect for those who have served, and continue to serve, our country.
L-R: Bob Simon AG-1, Linda Stull, Ed Davidson USAAF, Jay Gates (Co-pilot), Chuck Sweeney USN, Bob Cardenas USAF, Shelby Boelke (Loadmaster), Russ Gilmore (Pilot), Ray Calhoun, USMC, Kevin Bruen USCG.
Wings Over Gillespie received major media coverage every day for more than a week before and during the air show in 2011.