WWII-era bomber paying visit to eastern Iowa, public seats available
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A piece of history will be making an appearance in the skies above eastern Iowa over the next few days.
The Experimental Aircraft Association, an international group of enthusiasts based in Oshkosh, Wisc., is taking the North American B-25 Mitchell on a tour to select locations in the Midwest. It is in Cedar Rapids now, with public flights taking place between Friday, Sept. 16 and Sunday, Sept. 18.
“It’s a living piece of history that we always have a great time with, and it’s always an amazing experience to show off,” Justin Cook, president of Chapter 33 of the EAA, based in eastern Iowa, said. “We’ve had a B-17 here numerous times, this is the first time with the B-25.”
The aircraft, a medium bomber that was a workhorse of Allied forces in World War II, was designed the in the late 1930s and early 1940s. It was put into operational service in 1942. It gained notoriety in an April 1942 raid on Japan, coming just months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Nearly 10,000 B-25s were built, including the one at the Eastern Iowa Airport in December 1943. Only around 100 still exist, and just under three dozen are still able to fly.
The B-25 in Cedar Rapids was on display in Oshkosh for decades, but the members of the EAA were able to finally restore it to airworthiness by FAA standards. Julie Cruze, the co-pilot for Thursday afternoon’s media demonstration flight, said that the tour provides a unique opportunity for the public to step into the past.
“This is a very rare opportunity. Nothing to be afraid of, the airplane is totally safe,” Cruze said. “It’s a chance of a lifetime and it’s a memory that you’ll never forget.”
Cruze, an airline pilot who gets an opportunity to volunteer with EAA for these types of displays once or twice a month, said that it provides her the chance to experience a different kind of flying.
“This one’s a little bit heavier [to operate], because it’s, you know, just cables and pullies,” Cruze said. “But, it’s totally manageable. That was just my first impression, that she’s a little bit heavy, but she’s very responsive though. She’s so fun to fly.”
Members of the public can reserve a seat on the plane each day this weekend, with ground tours also available. More information on pricing and timing is available on the EAA’s website.
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