In August of 1958, the proud B-17 bomber known as Preston’s Pride was flown into Mefford Field outside of Tulare signaling the end of her flying career. She now sits across the street from airfield as a memorial to the residents of Tulare County who served in World War II.
This particular plane was produced at the end of World War II and following the war served as a control plane for drones used during the atomic tests at the Bikini Atoll in the mid-1940s. She was reassigned to work as a drone controller stateside and continued this task until retired in 1958 at which time General Maurice A. Preston, a Tulare resident and former commander of the 379th Bomb Group brought her to her current home.
Since her arrival, she has been hit by a truck and was subsequently repaired. The fencing around the monument was reinforced to prevent further damage. Fans of B-17 aircraft lament her current situation of sitting in the elements and being allowed to decay. Compared to many remaining B-17s she is in fairly good condition and it is speculated that she could be restored and returned to flying condition. For now, she sits at the side of the freeway beckoning drivers to make a short stop and pay tribute to the veterans of World War II.
Know Before You Go
Exit State Route 99 at exit 83, Avenue 200. If southbound on the 99, turn left to go over the freeway to reach the plane. The northbound exit will put you adjacent to the plane on exiting.