FAQs - Lacey Lady

Where did the Lacey Lady come from?

She was a surplus plane at a military storage depot in Altus, Oklahoma. Art Lacey, a service station entrepreneur, brought her to Oregon on a five dollar bet.

Where is the Lacey Lady now?

After years of weathering the elements on Highway 99E in Milwaukie, the aircraft has been moved to a climate-controlled hangar at McNary Field in Salem where restoration work continues. Foundation offices and a temporary museum are located nearby at 3278 25th Street SE.

Why do you want to restore it?

B-17s played a significant role in America's victory in WWII. There are now fewer than 50 of these aircraft left in the entire world. Only about a dozen could be considered airworthy and fewer than half of those are currently flying. The rarity of this aircraft is a major driving force behind the restoration.

Why do you want to fly it?

Simply put, the Lacey Lady was created to fly! We are returning this rare, historical treasure to her original airworthy condition so that people can experience her firsthand in her natural element.

In addition to a unique flight experience, this aircraft represents a piece of aviation history and provides an important glimpse into the past. We are creating a hands-on learning opportunity that will touch many lives. Visitors will be able to imagine the terror of a mission, as well as the intense heat, cold, and noise. By getting a taste of what it was like to be a B-17 crew member, visitors will better understand the bravery of our World War II veterans.

Where will the Lacey Lady “live” after restoration?

The choice of a permanent home will be influenced primarily by the availability of donated land, building materials, and funding. ​Our vision is to fly her around the country with a traveling exhibit. Her “homefront” location at the permanent museum site will offer a collection of artifacts and memorabilia to tell the stories of our veterans’ life experiences while she is away. During the winter months she will be housed inside a hangar for everyone to enjoy.

How long will restoration take?

We hope to have the plane restored to airworthy condition by 2025.

Why does restoration take so long?

When Art Lacey acquired this aircraft in 1947, there were hundreds of them in military boneyards around the country. These planes have long since been parted out. The few remnants will never be more than part of a museum collection. Replacement parts can take months to reproduce and every piece has to be rigorously inspected per FAA regulations.

Dismantling a battle-worn aircraft is not an easy task. After decades of exposure to the elements, each piece must be removed carefully to avoid damage. Parts must be cataloged for reassembly and the entire process photographically documented. It may seem like restoration is moving slowly, but we have a long list of successes to report.

Can the aircraft really be restored?

The Lacey Lady has the least air time of any remaining B-17s and she is one of the best examples of an intact B-17G in the world. Our volunteer mechanical crews have marveled at her structural integrity. Three of the four original Wright Cyclone R-1820 engines are salvageable, but will cost between $50,000 and $100,000 each to overhaul. We can do this, but it will take time, money, skill, and - above all - patience.

Who is doing the restoration work?

We are fortunate to have a dedicated crew of volunteers who enjoy working together to restore this rare artifact.

How much will all this cost?

The cost to restore the Lacey Lady to flying condition is estimated at $5 million, with an additional $3.5 million needed to build a permanent home and museum. Restoring this kind of aircraft is not like restoring an antique car; there is no “aftermarket” for B-17 parts. Most of the replacement components must be machined from scratch to precise, aircraft-grade specifications. We do as much as we can with volunteers, but there is no getting around the fact that paid craftsmen will be necssary for some of the restoration work.

Why did the aircraft go to Salem and not Aurora?

Aurora has limited public access. McNary Field in Salem offers a much larger facility that is better suited for our needs and anticipated growth.

When all the “old guys” are gone, how are you going to put the plane together?

We have all the original B-17 manuals and blueprints. We have several experienced restoration mechanics on our team as well as a professional photographer. All work is being photographically documented and cataloged for reference and reconstruction.

Wouldn’t it be easier to give the plane to Evergreen or some other museum?

We have invested many years and more than $500,000 in this project, so we are understandably passionate about preserving this piece of American history. We believe the Lacey Lady has a much larger mission than being part of a collection or parked behind a golden rope. She has a story to tell and we are determined to help her tell it.

Volunteers gather in front of the Lacey Lady, packed up and ready for the move to Salem.

An enthusiastic crowd turns out to welcome the Lacey Lady to her new home at McNary Field. Photos courtesy Brian Heim Photography.

U.S. Army Air Forces recruitment poster, circa 1941.