While many youngsters will be scouring yards throughout Urbana in search of plastic eggs filled with candy or other surprises this Easter, others – young and old – will be searching the skies in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the country’s most iconic aircraft from the WWII era – the B-25 Mitchell bomber.
Famous for being used in a top secret mission in which the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders bombed Japan on April 18, 1942, the B-25 bomber will be showcased at Grimes Field April 15-16 as over a dozen are expected to converge on the city before heading to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton for an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the raid on Tokyo.
Grimes Field Manager Elton Cultice said this will be the third time the B-25 gathering has taken place at the Urbana Municipal Airport, and as of Jan. 12, the owners of 15 B-25s have confirmed their plans to attend this April to give the public a chance to see these historic planes up close and personal.
“These planes are coming from all across the United States,” Cultice said. “Since some of them are licensed to give rides, I really expect a couple of them to come in that Friday night (April 14) and be here all day Saturday offering rides.”
In addition to the B-25s, Cultice said there is a chance other planes from the WWII era will be in attendance, including a Douglas C-47 Skytrain, a Vought F4U Corsair and a P-51 Mustang.
A list of all the aircraft scheduled to take part in the B-25 gathering will be released closer to the date of the event, which is being headed up locally by a committee consisting of the following local individuals: Jim Bob White, Dave Millner, Dave Shiffer, Randy Kemp, Kelly Pierce, Andrea Tullis, Dana Booghier, Doug Hall, Nick Mescher and Cultice.
While the details are still being ironed out here locally as well as at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force for the festivities surrounding the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, Cultice said, the plan as of now is for the B-25s to depart from Grimes Field to head down to Wright-Patt around noon on April 17.
“When they did this event last time, some of the planes that left Wright-Patt came back here to fuel up and spend another day here,” he added. “We assume some will do that again.”
Either way, Cultice said there will be plenty for visitors to do and see April 15-16 at Grimes Field.
“It will be a great opportunity for the public to see something they may never see again,” he said. “It’s a piece of history right here at Grimes Field.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.