Friday was the first day a Second World War B-25 J Mitchell medium bomber called ‘Maid in the Shade’ was available for inspection by the public and for short flights.
This type of aircraft is best known for its participation in the Doolittle Raid during World War II, where a group of B-25s took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet and bombed Tokyo, the first attack on Japan.
Those who came out to fly in the B-25 Friday were aware of what the aircraft represents historically and what wartime aircrew had to endure.
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“I crawled to the back and got to sit in the tail gunner’s seat, which was an absolute experience,” says visitor Jack Griffin.
“It was an amazing view, you got to see the tight quarters and cramps… these gentlemen had to fly in, you know, for their freedom,” Mike McCarthy said.
“I’ve read about these planes, in the history books, and their escapades in the war, and 16 of them going off the Hornet to bomb Tokyo and yeah, it was awesome,” Rick Searle commented.
Among flying Second World War-era aircraft, ‘Maid in the Shade’ is unusual in that it actually flew combat missions during the war. Based on the island of Corsica, it flew 14 bombing raids over occupied France. Aircraft commander Francois Bergeon flew this aircraft for the Commemorative Air Force special.
“Its an honour to fly it. Personally, for myself, I was born in France, I been in the U.S. for 25 years, and it’s close to my heart, because it participated in the liberation of France,” says Bergeon.
The B-25 ‘Maid in the Shade’ will be at the Peterborough Airport until Sunday, when it will be replaced by the Commemorative Air Force B-29 Superfortress ‘Fifi.’ The B-29 will remain at the airport for the week and will be joined by other vintage and current military aircraft the weekend of August 4-5.