POCATELLO — A B-25 Mitchell bomber that saw action in World War II arrived at the Pocatello Regional Airport Monday morning and will remain in town for paid tours and short flights through Sunday night.
The nonprofit Airbase Arizona Commemorative Air Force brought the historic bomber, known as “Maid in the Shade,” to Pocatello as part of its ongoing Flying Legends of Victory Tour.
The bomber was based in Corsica and flew 15 missions over Italy and Yugoslavia during November and December of 1944. After it was retired from military action, it was used to spray fire ants, said tour director Mike Garrett. The aircraft was donated to his organization in 1981. The plane didn’t return to the air until 2009.
“It was in pretty bad shape,” Garrett said. “We tore it down and put it all back together again.”
Garrett’s organization flies six WWII aircraft and regularly tours with the B-25 and its B-17 Flying Fortress. Pocatello is one of 13 stops on the B-25’s current tour. The bomber will head to Heber City, Utah, after leaving the Gate City.
While in Pocatello, it will be available for ground tours for $10 per person or $20 per family from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Those who wish to experience the historic plane more fully can book a seat on a 20-minute flight from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $325 per waste compartment seat or $590 per jump seat.
Garrett noted this year is the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.
“We are a flying museum as I like to say. We want to keep (these planes) flying so we honor and remember those who flew them during WWII,” Garrett said. “We educate those who may not have heard about these planes and know about them.”
Garrett describes the opportunity to take off in the bomber as a “living history flight experience,” noting WWII bombers won’t be around forever. In fact, “Made in the Shade” is one of just 34 B-25 Mitchells still in operation.
The plane on display at the local airport is a J model. A prior version of the plane — the B model — was immortalized in history when renowned Gen. Jimmy Doolittle led an American raid of Japan on April 18, 1942. Garrett explained 16 B-25 Mitchells launched from an aircraft carrier near Japan and bombed several cities, including Tokyo, in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Though the pilots it would be a suicide mission, 77 of the 80 crew survived, Garrett said.