MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — There’s a restaurant in Milwaukie called The Bomber where, for nearly 70 years, an actual WWII bomber was mounted outside.
Now, the disassembled B-17G bomber lives inside a hangar at the Salem airport, where it’s waiting to be restored to flying condition. It’s one of the only 44 B-17s left in the world. Only a few are still airworthy.
“It’s an incredible inheritance,” Terry Scott with the B-17 Alliance said. “It’s a piece of our history that we have to preserve for the next generation.”
Art Lacey, who owned the restaurant, bought the surplus plane in 1947 from an air base in Oklahoma — winning a $5 bet that he could do it.
It became a canopy for his gas station and an attraction he named the “Lacey Lady.”
“It’s an icon and it was there for almost 70 years as a landmark for Oregon,” Terry Scott said.
Scott heads the B-17 Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to restoring the B-17 and preserving WWII history.
The B-17 was a long-range bomber they called “The Flying Fortress,” able to take incoming fire and keep flying.
It helped the allies win the war and saved many American lives.
“Well, it basically is what took the war to the Germans back in WWII,” Terry’s husband, Jayson Scott said.
Jayson is Lacey’s grandson.
“It would mean everything in my entire life to see this plane fly again, and that’s what we’re trying to do — get it back into the air,” Jayson said.
The Bomber restaurant attracted WWII veterans who told their stories and brought memorabilia that Terry Scott turned into a museum, which includes the Lacey Lady.
“The history of how this country went to war and why we had to, really needs to be told and retold,” WWII veteran Paul Payne said. “And we’re honoring guys with this plane here, who didn’t make it back.”
The Scotts said the restoration could cost $6 million and take up to 10 years.
“This B-17 will fly in honor of a great generation for America and that’s what’s important,” Terry said.