One of Mitsubishi’s legendary Zero fighter planes took to the skies over Japan on Wednesday for the first time since World War II.
The restored plane made a brief flight to and from a naval base in southern Japan. Decorated former US Air Force pilot Skip Holm flew the aircraft.
Zero fighters were considered one of the most capable long-range fighter planes in World War II, rivalling the British Spitfire. Only a few are still in operating condition.
This particular plane was found decaying in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s. It was owned by an American until Japanese businessman Masahiro Ishizuka purchased it and brought it to Japan last September.
The Japanese see the aircraft both as a symbol of their country’s technological advance and a reminder of the harrowing history of the war. In the last phase of the fighting, they were used for “kamikaze” attacks.
Kamikaze pilots took off from the same airfield as Wednesday’s flight, Kanoya Naval Air Base on the island of Kyushu.
Under its previous American owner, the plane made an appearance in the Hollywood movie “Pearl Harbor” and at various events in the United States.
© 2016 The Associated Press